Extra security in Paris is undersandable but there were 2 events we couldn’t get into.
On Friday night we went to the launch of Energy Unlocked, a new UK organisation supporting low-carbon energy innovation. It’s a small startup, which attracted low-carbon business organisations over a remarkable range of scale: Continue reading
Anne shows off her DIY demountable window awnings
(Home F, in Open Eco Homes 2015)
When Tom suggested last year that we should be an Open Eco Home, I was a little nervous: Did we have enough to show people? Would they criticise my standards of housework? Looking back, those fears seem rather irrational, but they were real at the time, and I suspect quite common amongst other Open Eco Home hosts.
We’ve steadily been improving our home (an Edwardian terrace) since 2001, and this has had a substantial impact on our energy use. Our gas consumption is a quarter of what it was Continue reading
Videos of householders in the Mill Road area and home energy improvements they have made:
Patricia’s Victorian “2-up, 2-down”
now with internal insulation, double-glazed sash windows, woodstove & solar PV:
Judith Green’s eco-renovation of her Victorian terraced house, with carefully chosen high-tech, re-used and sustainable materials:
For details of materials Judith used, see her “Ross Street” case Study at Open Eco Homes
by Keith Jordan
The schools are out for summer and the holidays are in full flow but, with some regret, every year there are some subtle changes in the natural world in early/mid August that signal the summer is on the wane! The start of the football season is another reminder! Campers also find that clear nights and heavy dews can be a feature of mid August. My garden thermometer dropped to 6 deg C the other night here and it went down to about 4 C in Thetford.
About one week after the Cambridge Folk Festival finishes the swifts that have been flying and screeching over our houses are noticeably absent. They are already on the move, following their epic twice-yearly journey to Africa along with some of the warblers and other migrant birds that have graced our neighbourhoods. Continue reading
It’s a real ‘Berryfest’ down on the allotment at the moment! The ideal time to make summer pudding. I think the last 2 months have been excellent growing conditions with a variety of weather – sun, cloud, some cool days, some rain (in June), basically a bit of everything. A great contrast to last year’s over abundance of rain, flooding and the ‘Snailfest’ (e.g. remember the mega-downpour on 7th July before the Olympic Torch came to Cambridge?). I’m heartened to see that bees (honey and bumble), butterflies (e.g. Small Tortoiseshell) and insects in general are much more plentiful than 2012 and busily feeding off the nectar of garden plants. I grow some especially on my allotment to help these pollinators. At the moment popular insect plants include Lavender, Comfrey, hardy Geraniums, Stachys (‘Lambs Ears’), Lamiums, Oregano/Marjoram, Phacelia (a green manure, if left to flower) and Red Campion – a very long flowering wild flower.
The summer is hurtling along and it’s the time of plenty in the garden and allotment (assuming you planted or sowed things a few months ago!). Just as the strawberry crop wanes, the plants start to produce runners now, from which new plants will arise. A great chance to increase your stock of plants by pegging down the new plantlets and allowing them to root. As strawberries are short-lived it’s best to replace a third of your crop a year with new plants. Remove any netting, especially the very fine type, as soon as you have used it protect fruits – they can so easily become a trap for birds and hedgehogs. It’s much safer to use more rigid netting.
You may find lots of small apple fruits lying around trees – do not worry as this is a sign of good spring pollination and harvest to come in the autumn. The ‘June drop’ usually starts around Wimbledon week when trees naturally thin their crop. With more bees around at flowering time and no air frosts, pollination has been good and the trees thin their crops. As the season progresses you may find you still have to thin the apple crop later in the season if the branches are bending over with the weight. The little fruits make great non-returnable but biodegradable ‘balls’ to improve your tennis practice (as long as no greenhouses are nearby!). The couch grass is high on some plots (almost 5 foot!) and going to seed and bindweed is even higher (ah, with those lovely pure white trumpet flowers like Morning Glory!). In both cases try to control now rather than later,
and if nothing else, don’t let them drop seeds unless you want to increase your workload next year.
Easy to make, with an exotic flavour
-more elderflowers and less sugar than some recipes:
50 elderflower heads, with fully open florets,
preferably picked on a sunny morning
2 lemons: juice & zest
5 tsp of citric acid (ask at your chemist)
Use another lemon, if you can’t get it.
1kg of sugar
3 litres of boiling water
1. Shake and rinse the elderflowers to remove any insects and cut off their main stalks
2. Put all the solid ingredients in a large bowl and pour over the boiling water
3. Stir well and cover. Put it somewhere cool and stir it occasionally over 2 days
4. Then strain and seal the cordial in clean bottles.
It lasts a few weeks in the fridge or a year in the freezer (leave an air-space at the top of the bottle) I find plastic 1 pint milk-bottles good. Or you can preserve it without freezing by stirring in 3 crushed Campden tablets before bottling, but this isn’t suitable if sulphur dioxide makes you asthmatic like me.
Dilute the elderflower cordial to taste.
Serve with ice and a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint or some borage flowers.
Try it in a vinaigrette or with sorbets, ice-cream or stewed fruit.
These 2 workshops facilitated by Liz Serocold and Bev Sedley aimed to develop participants presentation and workshop skills with a view to putting these into practice helping CCF to increase other organisations’ understanding of climate change and carbon reduction.
The 2-hour sessions looked at workshops particularly from the point of view of climate change communication, and gave participants the opportunity to pair up and develop their own workshop to present to the group, giving them a safe option to try out their skills and receive constructive feedback in a supportive atmosphere.
Our outreach team ran 14 workshops for other organisations during 2012, from schools and colleges to businesses and the British Antarctic Survey. Would you like us to give a talk or a workshop for your organisation? Click here to find out more about what we offer.
CCF moved office on Sat 18 May. Our new address is:
Cambridge Carbon Footprint
Front of Citylife House:
and the other side:
We’re continuing with our excellent landlord: Future Business.
Our new office phone is connected, so you can contact us as usual on 01223 301842.
To cover the Maternity Leave of our excellent VEO, Joss Cutler:
starting with a handover from her, before her leave starts on January 16th,
when you would take over her vital role in CCF’s work with volunteers on carbon reduction, to:
- recruit, train, organise and support volunteers for events , stalls, and office-based work
and to organise and deliver (with volunteer help) :
- public engagement activities – stalls, talks and workshops
- our calendar of low-carbon events
- contributions to other CCF Projects, as needed
3 days per week, £19,500pa, pro rata. ie: £11,700 pa
You will be a flexible, creative, self-starter, who is good with people, with:
- excellent communication skills and the ability to engage others
- experience of organising events and teams
- an understanding of climate change and carbon reduction
The Job Description, downloadable here gives more information.
email your CV with references and a covering letter to Tom Bragg 07990 548755
Closing date: Mon 2 December, 5pm
Interviews on: Mon 9 December
Cambridge Carbon Footprint, Citylife House, Sturton Street, Cambridge CB1 2QF
Our big fundraising auction takes place on 27th April, so check some of the fantastic offers available on our website and come to bid on fantastic low-carbon goods and experiences for a great cause! We can still accept a few more auction lots, if you have a unique experience you would like to offer. Get in touch as soon as possible with firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss!
Our final Carbon Conversations group before autumn is starting on 17th April, and there is only one place left, so if you want to take part this spring, be quick and read more below or on our website.
Cambridge Carbon Footprint outreach group is looking for new members, and so we are organising a training workshop for new outreach volunteers. Our outreach group members give talks and run workshops in schools, colleges, businesses and institutions, and the training workshop gives practise in introducing and discussing climate change with varied audiences.
Runnings workshops with CCF is great fun and gets one acquainted with lots of interesting people and topics, so I can warmly recommend taking part!
Laura, outreach volunteer
Continuing Carbon Conversations group still has some spaces left, and the next meeting is on Wednesday 10th April. If you’d like to continue benefiting from the friendly support of Carbon Conversations groups, read more below.
By Keith Jordan
The cold easterly winds have finally subsided and wet, south westerly winds have brought a complete (and welcome) change in conditions. Farmers have been reporting serious problems with crops that overwinter, and growth of garden plants have been greatly delayed. It’s unlikely that many seeds sown earlier in the spring have germinated or survived the cold weather. Continue reading
by Keith Jordan
On a late March morning I awoke to find a layer of snow covering the garden. Ironically, the same day a local church newsletter dropped on the doormat announcing ‘Warm Easter greetings….’. The snowfall was light in Cambridge, but other parts if the UK received heavy falls and drifts brought by the strong easterly winds from Siberia. It is not unusual to experience snow and cold weather at Easter time (e.g. significant snow at Easter 2008), but the recent long spell of winter is quite unprecedented. I’ve never know such a long period of Arctic temperatures just after my garden frogs returned to the pond and started spawning and when the first summer migrant birds (Chiff Chaffs) usually arrive back from North Africa and Southern Europe. An almond tree that normally flowers in February is only just coming into flower at the beginning of April. As a result there has been very little point (let alone opportunity) in sowing many seeds. However, onion and garlic sets planted earlier will be slowly growing roots and buds are swelling on fruit bushes and trees. Continue reading
The season of Spring seems to have resumed in recent days (early March) with a few pleasant sunny, mild days after seemingly weeks of cold, dull, uninspiring weather. It’s difficult to believe that the first summer migrant songbirds (Chiff Chaffs) usually arrive in Cambridge around the 21st of this month on their journey from southern Europe and western Africa! As with plants, their spring progress is influenced by the weather.
March is really the main start of a new outdoor growing season and time to begin sowing/planting hardy vegetable varieties (peas, root crops, brassicas, onion and shallot sets, spinach, swiss chard, early potatoes, etc.). But just like Olympic athletes, pace yourself and don’t rush in and sow everything too soon! Spring can be a fickle affair and revert back to winter in a few days as soon as the winds change to an east or northerly direction. It has been known to snow at Easter! Sow seeds ‘a little and often’ and make use of horticultural fleece, old net curtain, cloches, cold frames (easily made from reclaimed timber and window frames) and other forms of shelter to create micro-climates around some crops. Plants can really respond to an increase of one or two degrees C in addition to any shelter provided (reducing ‘wind chill’) – in many ways mimicking climate change. If you plant potatoes too soon, their emerging foliage in April/May can be susceptible to frost damage, unless you can cover them over on a cold night. Again, if you plant a few at a time you guard against everything failing if the weather deteriorates and this maintains a continuity of crops that can be harvested throughout the year. Rhubarb and Seakale can also be forced (produces long tasty stems) by placing a bin or large bucket over a plant or two – the darkness and small temperature increase stimulates growth.
It’s the last chance to plant and prune fruit trees and bushes as they’ll soon be in growth. The buds on blackcurrants are already swelling and the flowers of wild Cherry Plum (e.g. along Barnwell Road, Cambridge) – the earliest of the plum/cherry (Prunus) family are coming out in flower. When pruning fruit trees that you want to rejuvenate, remove any dead, diseased or dying and stems and branches and those that may be rubbing or too close to neighbours. ‘Stone fruits’ such as plums, peaches, peaches and cherries should only be pruned only when dormant as wounds made during the growing season can lead to fungal infections. However, apples and pears can be ‘summer pruned’ later in the year to promote the growth of fruiting buds.
Last year the spring drought started around this time, and in the last few weeks there has been low rainfall, so start collecting rainwater….just in case!