I love the New Year - a fresh start and new adventures to plan! After the gluttony and excess of Christmas, it always feels so refreshing to clear out the old.
This year has started with a difference. I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a coppicing course with one of my favourite eco-heroes, Ben Law, accompanying volunteers from the very excellent Kindlewoods CIC, a project that manages woodland and delivers woodland wellbeing programmes for people experiencing mental health challenges. I love what Kindlewoods is about - it's one of the things I'm most grateful to be involved with and well worth a moment of investigation.
We arrived for our stay, at the Sustainability Centre, late at night - too late to see much at all - but we had a warm and comfortable bed and in the morning we were able to investigate a little more that it had to offer. The site is large and home to a variety of habitats and some beautiful timber buildings. Everything is geared towards showcasing environmental gains - our heating was provided by a biomass boiler, all the food provided was organic and Fairtrade and there were posters and information sheets displayed throughout. Short days meant less exploring that maybe we could, but it's on the revisit list!
I'm going to start straight off and state that I really don't think there is anything eco about holidaying. But I didn't half need a break!
I once read that you should build a life from which you don't need a holiday - sage advice - but not necessarily something that the majority can do. Whilst I probably feel less inclined than most to depart from normal life (as normal life for me is pretty enjoyable!) it is nice, once in a while, to leave the distractions behind and find a new corner to explore.
Flying is ruled out immediately - not just on account of the environmental impact, but also because there are too many of us to make it feasible! And although a foreign jaunt is appealing, we are lacking in passports and the means to make it happen comfortably. The weather has been so fine this year though, that actually staying on home turf is not a bad option!
The UK has plenty of unchartered territory for us, and with vaguely predictable weather, making an active choice to stay in the country was perfectly viable. The first choice, Mull, however was ruled out last minute due to rain and low temperatures, and instead we picked Norfolk, somewhere we had never ventured.
Today is Earth Day! - an international day of climate activism which, this year, is themed around the pressing issue of plastic pollution.
If I have been quiet of late, that's because I have done something almost unheard of. I've had a holiday!
We are, as is the rest of the UK, in the grips of 'the Beast from the East,' which actually equates to around 8 inches of snow but complete shut down. The schools are closed, and my normal day of salad production was definitely off the cards, so instead we had an enforced day in. What a pity, eh?!
In the true spirit of Hygge, snow days should be specifically designated for all things cosy and all things making: I actually do think this should be The Law. They are a great opportunity to catch up on all those odd little projects that sit in quiet corners looking longingly for some attention, often for years at a time. This is one such project, and yesterday was the perfect excuse for experimental slipper making. And yes, that is a Thing.
Every year, without exception, I promise myself I will start planting in good time, and every year I fail. (I also swear not to sow too many tomatoes, to label everything meticulously and to not plant out too closely - equally unsuccessful).
For the last week, planting broad beans has been on my daily list of things to do and at the eleventh hour, the close of the last day of the half term break and in the dark, I finally bit the bullet.
This time of year I find incredibly frustrating. When you're a food grower, which innately we all are (somewhere underneath), it's right about now that there is almost nothing that can be planted. January and February are not only too cold but there's too little light and the ground is usually frozen like stone, certainly too hard to push in seeds. Even if you catch the window of opportunity, there are desperate teams of birds and mice who will swoop in and demolish them the moment your back's turned!.
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.