Sunday, 19 May 2013


I think I want one of these.
I'm not passionate about it, but I do my best with recycling, and now most of the town population has one I'd quite like one too. It would save a few clanking trips to the bottle bank
All the houses around here have one, except for our little bit of the area, the bit where the road bends and goes under the bridge. I think we got missed off the map.
Some of my close neighbours have one, but they had to ring up and make a bit of a fuss and wait for quite a while.

So the other morning, feeling full of recycling zeal and with not too much else to do I thought I'd have a go and also ask on behalf my next-door neighbour to save an extra phone call.

It's not straight-forward, trying to be green.
I have to be assessed.
I asked if the assessment involved making a phone call and a request, but I was told no,  it depends on my personal circumstances.
At this point I became more interested.
What personal circumstances?
I would have to be assessed to see if the special new van could access my road.
'It's already accessing my road', I said, 'Some of my neighbours have wheelie bins.'
But I still have to be assessed. My house and my circumstances have to be assessed, and then a decision will be made about whether I get a bin or stay as a bag.
'I have a flat drive area with space for a bin,' I said.
Not good enough.
Further assessment is needed.
I capitulated. Fair enough.
'Could you assess my next-door neighbours at the same time?' I said. 'They want a bin too.'
This is impossible. They must make separate application. There may be confidentiality issues at stake here.

So I'm waiting to be assessed. Should I bake a cake, wear my best clothes, tidy up the front garden? What needs do I have, and how can a wheelie bin be judged to meet them?
In the meantime, in this tense hiatus, I hear nerve-wracking stories. Wheelie bins are micro-chipped and are able to record the quality and quantity of their contents. Should I remove the labels from the cheap wine bottles, or does cheaper wine indicate greater need?
I hear tales of people falling over, under and even into wheelie bins, of wheelie bins being out of control on sloping driveways, of them causing damage to parked vehicles and garden furniture.
It's all so much more complex than I realised.
Maybe I'll fail the assessment and stay as a bag.

Update - June 1st.
I feel sure I'm getting closer. I've passed the assessments, and one of my neighbours now has two recycling bins and is trying to send one of them back. Things are moving, even if not as expected.

Update - June 5th.
After a couple of days away I return to find a letter welcoming my new wheelie bin, saying the Council hopes we'll be happy together, and also saying it will be emptied this morning.
BUT - no wheelie bin!
The story rolls on.

Update - June 10th.
Still no bin for me, but my neighbours, both having some physical problems, were told that their wheelie bin could be collected from the top of their garden steps (and returned when emptied). Now they have been assessed (following a failure to return the empty bin to the garden), and the  four steps are judged too hazardous to be negotiated by the Bin Operatives. Life becomes unspeakably perilous!

Update - June 13th.
Someone in some office has ticked the wrong box, saying I have a bin when I haven't. What a surprise!
I now have a reference number so that the next time the bin doesn't arrive I can quote the number. Then what.....?
This Council uses a logo which claims it is 'Committed to Excellence'. How would it be if it was 'Committed to Confusion'?

Update - June 17th.
My neighbour (he of the confidentiality issues) makes one call to the Council Hub and receives a wheelie bin the next day. A lorry comes along the road, laden with wheelie bins, but none has my vital reference number. Do I quote non-delivery, or do I just forget the whole thing and either dump my empties into someone else's bin or throw them over the fence into my neighbour's garden now that he has a bin? Am I dealing with sexism, ageism or just everyday daftness?

Update - June 19th.
Neighbourhood wheelie bins emptied this morning, including that of a neighbour who didn't want one and had not requested one.
I don't care. 
A kind neighbour had offered space in hers, and as there were bottles of Chateauneuf du Pape and  Pouilly Fuisse left over from elder son's visit I thought it would be ok, (also Bishop's Finger,  and Old Peculier from younger son, but still not image-harming).
My descent into paranoia continues.
Thank you, Linda.

Update June 22nd.
I am delighted to announce that this morning I was safely delivered of a wheelie bin. Absolutely no one was to blame for the six-week delay. It was all the computer's fault. Of course!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Family on the Rocks.

The restorative power of Welsh rocks........
Nearly all our family holidays when our sons were young were in Wales. In a specific area of Wales where we kept a caravan for many years beside this, which was endlessly interesting for small and even quite large boys and their father.
I liked it, too.

Tywyn boasts not only the Talyllyn Railway, but also the only working Wurlitzer organ in Wales. What a place! There are beaches and rivers, waterfalls and mountains, sheep, rain, sun and honey ice-cream.
There is a timeless magic about most of Wales.

The rocks and the beach in the photo above are not the same small area, but are the same small country with the same wind and rain and sun and restorative powers and I watched my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter (in her back-pack) walking across the pristine sand. My son was warming up after a quick swim in the roaring surf, his first for ten months.

It's been a tough ten months for my daughter-in-law, both sons and for me by transference and maternal anxiety. Some very painful things have happened, but they are all still smiling and being wonderfully positive. I  am so proud of them all for their courage and strength - and I don't just mean by wading into a foaming sea when the temperature is in single figures.

My daughter-in-law is an excellent organiser. She is keen on a company called Under the Thatch and organised for us to have a few days in a charming farmhouse high in the hills. So high in the hills, so windy, that when I arrived I had real difficulty in opening the car door.
Inside the house was warm and there were spectacular views over rolling hills. We could watch the lashing rain in comfort. Then the sun came out, as it nearly always does, and there was a magnificent rainbow, arching low over acid green fields.
When the rainbow faded we could watch lamb Number Seventy force her way through the wire fencing into the house garden where the grass was even more lush. No other lamb could do it, but Number Seventy did it at least once daily, and got back in time to butt her mother off the ground in a demand for milk.

We did things.
I did my daily drawings. I drew sheep in the rain, more sheep in less rain and multiple studies of different aspects of sheep. Then I drew a castle.
We read the leaflets in the house. We could have gone to a watermill to have a tour and then to watch the process of wheat being ground into flour. We could have gone to a woollen mill to have a tour and buy a blanket.
We did other things. We visited a National Trust house and garden and discovered that even a Barbour is not totally impervious to Welsh rain.
We walked beside a river in sunshine and saw a castle and some beautiful beaches before the rain started again.
But the best thing of all was seeing and hearing six-month old grand-daughter helpless with laughter at the sight of a log-fire and the sound of logs going 'pop'.
You can't get more restorative than that.