swishing – what’s new?

Those of you who know me well and even for those who have only just visited the ecospot, will know my obsession with all things eco.

Well, I have a new obsession – swishing.

This has all originated from the current BBC 2 programme – ‘Twiggy’s Frock Exchange’. The clue is in the title really – frocks and outfits are exchanged between visiting women, thus getting rid of that fashion disaster yourself, and swapping it for something more fitting…

Anything truly awful has the opportunity to be customised by a team from TRAID remade, and every week a designer give away is fought over by the ravening fashion hordes.

The idea is that we can all arrange parties to swap our clothes that we no longer like, get a new look for free, and help the environment to boot.

Call me cynical, but when I was younger, this was just called charity shopping, and yes, not free, but then the money was going to needy causes. And we ripped things up, painted things, and sewed them back together (badly) but hey – I was not going to see anyone else in the same outfit (sometimes a good thing)

Now, if we have to sexy up eco for the fashionistas – fine – every little helps, and better that we all swap or buy secondhand than new, but itself swishing is not new. We’ve been doing it for years. It’s just that now it’s fashionable – so my new obsession is not new, it’s just got another label.

I suppose ‘swishing’ is infinitely more sexy than ‘thrifty’…

crestie…

Crestie, as shown here, is my handknitted alien with a cause.

He was designed, and is produced solely for the Brighton and Hove Emmaus Goodwill Co-operative – a band of designers and volunteers who increase the value of donated stock for the charity by remaking, renovating and rejuvenating bits and bobs. It is a band we are proud to be members of.

Last weekend saw the official opening of the Goodwill Co-operative section in the Brighton and Hove shop, which was a massive success, taking over £200 in a couple of hours. From my Crestie to handknitted scarves, handwarmers, hats and jumpers, birdboxes, paintings, cards and other random toys – it was all there, and everything else in between.

Well done to everyone involved – especially Joel Lewis, Emmaus Business Manager, who dreamt the whole thing up.

In our area? Pop along and take a look…

happy birthday to me…

birthdays are always great, but this year I’ve had a fab one.

the day was blue, crisp, and smelt of winter. my presents included book vouchers (always welcome) some new Ilse Jacobsen lace up wellies in poppy red, and a new solar powered Roberts DAB radio.

breakfast was organic museli, tea was homemade chocolate truffle cake, and dinner was lamb tagine (and more cake…)

but the icing on the cake? finding out that my latest garden has got thorough the initial selection process for the Chris Beardshaw Mentoring Scholarship to be held at Malvern next May…
good birthday? bloody great thanks…

the garden of three r’s at Malvern

well, seeing as other people have managed to write some lovely bits about our recent show garden at Malvern, I thought it was pretty lame to have not covered it myself. very remiss…

so, here goes – the as brief as I can lest you all fall asleep description of the garden and what we got up to at Malvern…
‘the garden of three r’s’ was first staged at BBC Gardeners’ World Live in June 2008, and we were thrilled when we got a bronze medal and ‘the NS&I Peoples Vote’ 2008. people love a bit of ethics… anyway, we were invited to restage at Malvern, in the new edible pavilion for the Autumn Show, which was grand.

for those of you who are unsure, the three r’s stand for ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’, and the garden was designed to be completely sustainable , in planting, materials used etc. many of the bits in the garden were either reused from an original life (like the planter for our black mulberry, which was an old oven casing bought at a scrap yard for £5) or recycled, like our fantastic recycled glass pavers from Enviroglass.

the main focus of the garden was the butterfly pavilion, which was made from a standard 6 x 4 shed, to show the general joe that anyone can have a bit of drama for not much cash. we split the front and back sections of the shed, flipped them around, and inverted the roof. because we had lowered the ridge line, we raised the shed up onto a plinth (clad in reclaimed aluminium printing plates) and added an extra ridge beam to take the new loads from the altered roof. recesses in the shed sides housed a beehive and a wormery, and the space both took up were made into the aluminium clad potting bench inside. all was given a couple of coats of a natural woodstain, and voila – one butterfly roofed shed.

the roof was covered with a new sedum and herb mixed blanket from bauder, and featured a solar panel to run the water feature, which was made from a wicked recycled plastic sheet with shredded bank notes in (ones that would otherwise have been burnt…). a valley gutter directed water front and back to a tomato filled trough or water butt, and the whole lot sat in a deck made from reclaimed scaffold boards.

my other obsession of late has been galvanised bits, and this garden was no exception, with a perimeter boundary of locally coppiced chestnut and reclaimed scaffold poles.

planting was fully edible (except the water lettuces) with a limited colour palette to reflect the modernity of the design.

well, did we get a medal? yes we did, a nice little silver one thank you. I would have liked the silver gilt, but I live to fight another day… and honestly, the best bit was talking to the public and spreading the eco word about a bit. (that was after I had finished raging…)

thank you to all those who visited the garden during it’s life (including some celebrities…). another drawing has just leapt off my board and into a submission for next year – will keep you posted on its progress…

laters all

can you guess what it is yet?

Ha Ha Ha…

supreme satisfaction will be the prize for anyone who can tell me what this little object is for…

clue: i used one of these as a girl guide, but found it today in the wonderful basement of Lewes Antiques Centre (see ‘claire’s little black book…page 1)
second clue: it is not remotely kinky.

so, can you guess what it is?

claire’s little black book…page 1

Not as exciting as it seems I’m afraid, but now and again I will let you lovely people into some little secret bits and bobs from my little black book.

Today has been a black book day, as we visited one of my favourite places in the south, Lewes.

Now, many of you will know Lewes, as every year it is the location for the most incredibly massive, diverse (and dangerous) bonfire celebrations. Bonfire societies are linked to different areas of the town, and compete for the biggest and best parades, displays and bonfires themselves.

If you have not visited this wonderful little town before, please do, both on bonfire night (where you will be scared out of your wits by people dressed as pirates and other things running through the streets with burning barrels and lines of firecrackers going off by their ears), and at any other time in the year. They are very different animals, and both are fantastic.

Anyway, back to the black book. Lewes is by no means a secret place, but as a designer who loves old stuff, it is a place of dreams. Crammed full of antiques and collectables, bits from France, rescued from old factories, it is all here, including a smattering of organic foodie places. It is my idea of heaven.

But there are two places of particular interest to those who do not have bottomless pockets, and like random things.
The first is Lewes Flea Market. Based in a converted church (methodist I think) there are stalls a plenty full of great things. I fell in love with a very old battered brass sink and inset drainer tray today, but could not think of anywhere to put it myself, or what client I could convince that this was the piece that would change their life. Still, someone will find it and love it.
The second is Lewes Antiques Centre. This is a series of stalls in a four or five storey building, with furniture, statues, garden bits and anything you can think of spilling from the floors. My tip? Head for the basement. It smells musky, is dark, and always cold, so not many people go down there. But if you do, you can unearth some real treasures, at bargain prices.

The galvanised tubs in our recent show garden came from the depths of the basement, for a bargain £15, as did our antique mussel collectors basket (a snip at £20), and some old spoons we used as hooks.

So – visit Lewes, and take a leaf out of my black book – visit the church, then head downhill and end up down stairs (metaphorically speaking if course).
Laters all xxx

random, but I like it.

Found this picture today from when I went to Hampton Court Palace flower show this year.
I love it.
If I had the space and money (or a client with space and money, and a sense of humour) I’d have it.
And yes, it is a sculpture of a full size, vaulting skeleton. Fantastic.

do something. please

welcome to rant #1. the do something please rant.

Now, we are all told to ‘be greener’ ‘save the planet’ ‘be responsible’ and even though I do preach these things myself (and practice them as far as possible) it can be tricky.

I have caught myself with a takeaway coffee cup and really battled with myself whether to throw it in the street bin after I have finished it. Is this a bit mental? I suppose what is more mental is that most of the time I transport the frothy, leaking mass back home, to rinse it out and put the cardboard cup in my recycling. and yes, it has leaked in my bag, which I then have to clean out, and wipe brown froth off everything.

I’m an environmental mentalist.

I even pick up rubbish outside of my house and put it in my recycling bin.

But, being responsible comes in many guises, and we should not beat ourselves up about not having a solar panel on our roof or wind farm in our back garden. Little things add up.

And, to my delight I have found a fantastic website by the people who brought you ‘change the world 9-5’ a lovely little book should you ever find it. http://www.wearewhatwedo.org/ is a fantastic list of stuff we can all do to get things happening. Sign up, create your own list, and tick the wee boxes everytime you do something. very satisfying – just like that sheet with stars on you had at school for when you did a good thing…

Yes, there are the usual green actions you can track, like turning down your thermostat (couldn’t do this one, as our house has no heating anyway – we just put on more jumpers…), recycle everything and support small and local businesses, but what I LOVE is that there are other good things that you can do easily but we JUST DON’T DO MUCH ANYMORE.

#101 – make someone smile, #97 – say thanks, #77 – show empathy, #73 – leave work at least one a week on time, #60 – remember peoples names. You get the picture. Easy stuff that we were brought up to do and yet some of us have forgotten.

But, the one I love is #82 – ‘aspire not to have more, but to be more’.

Food for thought. So – visit the lovely people at http://www.wearewhatwedo.org/, and see what you can do to get things moving.

Oh, and #98 – spread the word.

laters all

from small seeds…

well. welcome to my new little blog…hopefully this will be a space where you can follow what the practice is up to, going to do or just done. It will also be an area for eco discussion – new stuff we’ve found, good stuff, bad stuff and everything in between. I’m known for my rants, and I’m sure there will be a few on here… comments welcome.

more stuff to follow when I understand what the hell I am doing…

laters all – cj