Saturday, October 31, 2009


The colours in the leaves that have fallen off the trees is always a pleasure to see. To walk through leaves rustling under your feet is a memory that goes back to childhood. Its also amazing that the trees do it in the same order each year. The ash tree in my front garden is now clear of leaves but the one I can see through my back window still has almost all its leaves present. Its always that way round. What does vary is the date that it occurs. This year is almost exactly the same date as the last two years but about a week earlier than the few years before those.

We collect all our leaves up and put them in plastic bags so that they will rot down into compost that we can use on the soil another year. However we are not the only ones who collect leaves. Here in Birmingham there is a company who collects leaves from parks etc and compresses them into logs that can be burnt on an open grate. They do this in conjunction with a number of local authorities in the area and are now selling them in some of the bigger DIY stores. To read more about them go to

If you have a clever use of leaves let us know and we will pass on the tip to others.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Apple Day

Today was not only the day we changed the clocks but it was also Apple Day. Changing the clocks seems to herald the start of the dark nights but Apple Day draws are attention to the fact that soon most of the fruit will have gone off our trees for another year.

What we often forget is the huge variety of apples that this country enjoys. There are hundreds of varieties. Some are ready to eat in August whilst others are still not quite ripe. There are eaters and there are others that are much better cooked. I was reminded today that we used to have apples wrapped in pastry served with custard. Whatever happened to them as I have not had one for years nor have I heard of them for years.

Around Erdington they are plotting all the places that there are apple trees and are trying to identify all the varieties. Some are in peoples gardens others in allotments and even waste ground. Lets hope they find some long lost variety that can be restablished.

If you have to buy apples during the coming months, look at the variety and try and find out a bit more about it. Is it grown in this country? Is it grown in the Midlands? Could it even have been grown in Birmingham? Remember the more local it is the less carbon used to get it to you.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Last Sunday I woke up realising something was different. It took me a little while to realise what it was. There was no traffic noise. We can normally just hear the almost continuous traffic on Pershore Road. It is one of those things you notice when it is not there.
The reason for the quietness was that all the roads around here had been closed for the half marathon.
The previous time I had had the same sensation was on September 11th 2001. I was in the States at the time. All aircraft were grounded for several days and again it was quiet strange looking up into the sky and seeing no vapour trails. The sky was suddenly perfectly blue and clear.
Both of these instances have shown me how much we take pollution for granted whether it is noise or just vapour trails across the sky.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Simple advice

It is good that everyone is handing out advice on saving energy now that the cooler weather is beginning to show up. The Mail has just featured two people giving such advice including our own Luke from the Northfield Ecocentre.
However it is the simple things we must do first in order to keep warm and also save energy and money.
· Draw the curtains as soon as it gets dark. Tuck them behind the radiators.
· Ensure the curtains are lined.
· Stop the draughts.
· Make sure the hot water tank is insulated and set at a temperature that is not too high.
· Put foil behind the radiators to reflect heat back into the room.
· Turn heat off in rooms that are unused.
· Set the heating timer so it is only on when you need heat. There is no point heating the house when you are out or snug in bed.
· Put on a sweater rather than turning the heat up.

The list above is not exhaustive so add your own in the comments below and I will add them to the list.