Finding a new swimming home

First off, a quick apology to the blog for having neglected it for so long! So many things have popped up – we’re turning a back wasteland into a proper garden, I’ve started a new job after eight years of working at the same place, there has been honey to harvest from our bees, and I took up running (and then subsequently got an ankle injury).

But where I’ve idled away the most time, when I could have been writing, is at this beautiful spot above – the Great Ouse river in Olney, Buckinghamshire. It’s different from my former swim spot, the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond in Hampstead, London. Kenwood has its own character, through a sense of bohemian ideas, and a strong identity through the women who swim there. It’s unashamedly London – alternative, feisty and bold. When I moved away from London in May 2016, I didn’t know what I’d do without it. Luckily, a tip from the Open Water Swimming Society  pointed me to a bend in the river, behind a rugby club, 10 miles up the road from my new home.

Olney is striking in one particular way, which is the diversity of people who go to swim there. Next to the ‘swimming is not recommended’ sign (hey, that means it’s legal, right?) and specially carved out steps leading to the water’s edge, are groups of teenagers daring each other to jump into the deep drop near the riverbank, small children paddling on the bottom step where the water just about reaches, families in blow-up boats with swimming dogs in tow, elderly couples reading on the benches under the willow trees… In short, everyone is here. It’s a spot that belongs to the whole village and is intertwined with their everyday lives. Until I found it, I didn’t know that still existed, and it makes me so happy.

The water here is great to swim in, clean and full of little fish. You get in at the steps, and swim up a narrow section through a gentle current. On turning the corner, the river widens out, with banks gently sloping up one side, and a huge sky of swifts gliding a across a huge open expanse to the other. If you’re lucky, you might see the kingfisher hiding amongst the tree cover.

So I’m sure you can understand my neglect of the blog, but as the nights start to draw in, hopefully we can start spending some more time together again. Although…winter swimming has its appeal too… 

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Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!

So I’m counting down the hours, because Friday, 14th October is the day that the Zero Waster’s Travel Companion goes on sale! A helpful guide to take you round the world whilst looking after it 🙂

This project was the idea of the lovely Inge, who blogs over at www.gruenish.com and is the brains behind the Zero Waste Bloggers Network. She has worked her socks off, and lots of us have been helping, each contributing a chapter on where you can eat, shop and live zero waste in a whole host of cities across the world!

The book will be available as an ebook, and you’ll be able to purchase and download it from http://zerowastebloggersnetwork.com/products/

I am very proud to be able to have written the chapter on London, covering all the way from Bloomsbury, through Camden, Kentish Town and up to Highgate. Continue reading “Countdown to book launch: Zero Waster’s Travel Companion!”

Restaurant review: Silo

silo-philosophy
A Silo philosophy: Waste is a failure of the imagination
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to find myself in one of the very nicest cities in the UK, Brighton. It has pretty much everything I could want in a city – the sea (with accompanying gorgeous views), market stalls, indie shops selling one-of-a-kind vintage items, enough vegetarian cafes to make it seem like a normal lifestyle, and a great approach to life (they elected the only Green Party MP in the UK, which makes them pretty awesome and progressive in my book).

There is a huge range of places to eat – the wonderful Terre à Terre makes some of the most exciting vegetarian food I’ve ever tried, or the excellently-named Wai Kika Moo Kau (say it out loud), but there was somewhere new that I have wanted to try ever since it opened…

Silo is a restaurant with a rather unique and exciting way of doing things – the zero waste way. It oozes out of the room itself, which is furnished with functional second-hand furniture and repurposed items. All food is delivered in refillable or reusable packaging, and any waste that created is compostable, although Silo’s website says they create so little of it that they also offer their composting services to local business and residential neighbours! Continue reading “Restaurant review: Silo”

Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability

Ljubljana_panorama
Panorama across Ljubljana

So, in my last post I waxed lyrical about some of the many, many joys of swimming in this gorgeous country and its amazing countryside. However, I was also really impressed with how green, clean and sustainability-minded it also seems to be.

At home in London, I can often spot on my way to work what people had for breakfast, or for dinner the night before, because the packaging and unwanted remnants of fast food are ‘handily’ left out on the street for other passers-by to see. I think a lot of people are aware that Britain has a serious litter problem, but I’d kind of got used to it. Visiting Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, has suddenly made me very aware of it again!

The one bit of rubbish we saw touring round the Slovenian countryside
Rubbish seen in Slovenia: item one of two

The place is pretty much spotless Continue reading “Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 2 – sustainability”

Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 1 – swimming

Paradise, also known as Lake Bled, Slovenia
Paradise, also known as Lake Bled, Slovenia

Hello! It’s been rather a long time since I last wrote a post here. Happily, there’s a good reason for that and it’s because we’ve been away on holidays, living it up in the green and beautiful Slovenia. I must admit to knowing very little about the country before we went, but I left besotted with its gorgeous green landscapes and equally gorgeous green attitude.

A place so lovely deserves more than one post, so I’m going to break it down into two, covering my two favourite things, open water swimming and sustainability/eco-stuff.

Now I love a good swim outdoors, and can be found Continue reading “Slovenia: Green, blue and green. Part 1 – swimming”