Friday, 26 June 2009

The Good, The Bad and The Privileged

The story of Molendinar Family Learning Centre.

The Eco Flag flies above flowers donated earlier in the day by a local gardener.

I have been working this year with a group of mothers at the Molindinar Family Centre. The Centre is situated in Blackhill in the East End of Glasgow. Wikipedia describe Blackhill as "developed as a council housing estate in the 1930s. Most of the new development was designated Rehousing, the lowest grade of council housing intended for those cleared from Glasgow's 19th century slums". In the last decade the estate has been rejuvenated and the Molendinar Centre is one of the many success stories of that rejuvenation.

The Centre has a three large nurseries and a parents room. In the past year they have successfully worked for, and been awarded with their Eco Flag. I have been working with the parents to grow vegetables and herbs and the nurseries have been growing flowers. Tyres and boxes have been painted by the parents and a couple of weeks ago we planted them up.

When I arrived last week I found the lot had been vandalised. I was told that some youths had rampaged the outside area and thought it would be fun to destroy this hard work. The children and the mothers had cried when they saw the damage.

The Evening Times reported the incident on Monday. When I arrived yesterday the scene had transformed. Flowers bloomed from every corner of the Centre. Local residents had turned out in force to donate money and flowers to repair the damage.

This is an example of how the actions of a few callous youths can be overturned by the kindness of the community. I have no doubt that community will win in the end.

It has been a privilege for me to work in Blackhill and I am looking forward to working with them again in the future.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Glittering Prizes

The Proof - Monty Halls' Wilderness on the left, the MOD on the right

A visit to Applecross last week was a welcome break. We found a few changes since last there. The pub, always busy, is over stretched with the increase in traffic since the BBC invasion. What hasn't changed is the MOD's proximity to Monty Halls wilderness paradise and the stunning scenery.

We will go back in November for the unedited local weather, a decent seat in the pub and a chance to chat with the locals once they emerge from their summer hideout.

Food Miles

At the beginning of this year I claimed I would reduce my food miles and I now realise that I haven’t reported any of the things I have been doing.

I am lucky to live in Scotland. Here I have almost all I need within our borders. And Europe is so close that I can almost get away with buying the rest from there.

Here is a list of all the things I have changed this year;

All flour from Aberfeldy Mills
All honey from Dalmiur
All eggs local
All cows milk local
All meat local
All fish Scottish (our local butcher sells fish purchased weekly from Pittenweem)

I now buy only Scottish cheddar, soft cheese I make myself but I have still to get into the practice of doing this weekly. Parmesan from Italy.

I try to only buy Scottish fruit and vegetable, preferably from the farmers market. The big exceptions are bananas and lemons, I can’t do without bananas, but I qualify this by buying only Fair Trade – the lemons I’m still working on.

My garden is now beginning to bear produce so I am buying less and less as summer progresses. All my herbs are home grown.

The wine we drink is either home made or French.

One acquisition to the garden is Champion the Bean. The Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow are currently running an exhibition called This Land is your Land. Part of that project is to give plants away to anyone happy to look after them. I took Champion. They also gave me two chilli plants which I called Cayenne and Abel. The bean was unhappy in its pot but is now thriving in a whisky barrel in the company of an Italian bean and a butternut squash.

Champion the Bean on the right of the barrel. The plastic tub is the beer trap I put out to give the slugs a happy time and keep then off the beans.

Glittering Prizes

Congratulation to James Kelman on winning the Scottish Book of the Year for Kieron Smith,boy. I finished the book last night and can confirm it as a worthy winner.

This novel uses a unique voice to chart the life of a small boy through the ages of five to twelve in post war Glasgow. I heard James Kelman discuss the book a couple of months ago where he stated that this is a book for women to discover how fraught with danger a little boy's life is. The story is touching, heroic and funny. It has been described as Kelman's best book yet.