Words by William Stephens Pictures by Emily Stephens
Maisie Minnie (Mum)
Is tall and strong. She spends a lot of time explaining to her husband why his latest invention won’t make them rich. The best mum in the world.
Arthur Minnie (Dad)
A not-very-successful inventor of amazing energy saving devices. Small and lively likes to sing, grow vegetables and have adventurous journeys with his family. Little George
At 2 years old, the youngest member of the family. He is always cheerful and makes everyone laugh when he gets his words mixed up.
Is seven years old and quite small for her age but she is a fearless adventurer who relies on her magic goblin stone to guide her.
11 years old and tall like his Mum he is the oldest of the Minnie children. Theo loves the outdoors, building ‘survival shelters’ and exploring new places.
Chapter 1. Holidays
‘Boom-boom-chika -chika boom-boom!’ ‘Oh no! Not again.’ Minny was standing at the school gates when she heard the noise in the distance.
Soon she caught sight of a white helmet glinting in the afternoon sun, bobbing up and down amongst the other parents heading towards the school gates. People stopped and stared, as the white hatted figure in silver cape and goggles moved jerkily along the road on a large electric scooter. Music was blaring from a large speaker on the back of the scooter ‘Everybody get on the floor ! Everybody do the dinosaur !’
Minny covered her eyes and groaned. ‘Is that your Dad Minny ?’ asked Maddie her best friend. ‘Um….yes,’ muttered Minny. ‘I like his cape.’ Maddie said kindly. ‘Yes it’s something to do with reflecting heat,’ said Minny, feeling a little embarrassed. There was a sudden crash. Dad’s head had disappeared from sight.
Minny and Maddie ran down the crowded path. They found Dad in a heap on the pavement underneath the scooter next to an upturned wheely bin. Someone was helping him up and Dad was saying
‘Oh yes these goggles do steam up terribly you know.’ Dad’s scooter was just one of many solar power vehicles that he had created. They needed sunlight to make them work. The scooter was one Dad had got from a man who used the scooter to advertise his bagel bar. The huge speaker on the back automatically played loud music whenever you turned the scooter on. You couldn’t turn it off. At least Dad hadn’t worked out how to turn it off.
‘Well darling are you excited about the holiday tomorrow?’ beamed Dad as they walked home (the scooter wouldn’t go after the accident) Minny nodded and thought about the family trip. Every year they had some kind of adventure.
One year they didn’t make it home for two months because there was not enough sun to make the solar van go. Dad had got a temporary job as a cave guide. A goblin cave guide.
This year’s trip was to the Enormous Green Gathering or EGG as Mum and Dad kept calling it. The EGG was a big festival that happened every summer where people camped together, went to see bands, plays, made stuff, learnt things about looking after the environment, played games and rolled around in mud.
It was a lot of fun remembered Minny. George, Minny’s little brother was two. He kept asking ‘Going EGG mummy?’ which Minny thought was hilarious. George had woken up several times recently shouting ‘No! don’t like eggs!’ as his little mind dreamt up pictures of him and Minny being forced to sit in an enormous egg shaped tent eating boiled eggs all holiday. At home Mum and George were sitting together on a large scruffy rucksack.
‘It won’t work, theres no way that will all fit in there,’ Mum was sighing to Dad as they entered the room. ‘Ah, but they will, stand back !’ smiled Dad.
Mum and George stood well back. They knew that when Dad had that look on his face you never knew what was going to happen. Removing his cape, Dad leapt onto the kitchen table.
‘Careful Daddy!’ shouted George in a worried voice. Mum raised her eyebrows and sighed. ‘Hoo-yaaah!’ screamed Dad as he jumped into the air and landed feet first into the open rucksack. The rucksack slid onto it’s side taking Dad with it. He looked up from under a tea towel and grinned ‘There we are-much more room in there now.’
In her room, Minny packed her bag. Some shorts, tee-shirts, dresses, one nightie, swimming costume, knickers, vests, books, puzzles, a few dolls, writing pad, pencils, felt tips, goblin stone. The goblin stone was a small shiny green stone shaped like a head with a pointy nose and ears. Minny had had it since two summers ago when Dad was a goblin cave guide.
He told Minny that the stone was a magic stone that he had found deep in the goblin cave and that it would bring you good luck.
That was when Minny was just 6.Now, nearly 8, Minny thought it probably wasn’t really magic but she was not sure. She ran the cool smooth stone between her fingers.
As the pink glow of the summer evening shone through the window it made the stone a beautiful shiny purple colour.
Minny went to bed with the stone under her pillow. She closed her eyes, next thing she knew Mum was kissing her forehead and saying ‘Time to get up darling.’
Dumb idea really.Why oh why did i choose to do a half hour lesson on Permaculture in an introduction to adult teaching course? I was curious to know if i could manage to get a group of uninitiated and possible uninterested people to get the message in...half an hour. But, what is the message then ? 'I liked it because it was not too, you know eco-warrior-ish' one of my fellow students kindly pondered in the post teach analysis. 'You're not one of them eco warriors are you?' Another asked. Luckily someone else chipped in then so I didn't have to reveal that, yes, my path to permaculture started in chaotic Earth First ! meetings in the early 90s. I planned way too much and lost some of the group early in an ambitious attempt to introduce the idea of beneficial relationships in ecosystems as the key element in permaculture design principles, as in the attempt or desire to emulate these in permaculture design.
But what i did learn was that with little or no introduction, a group can start to use pc design principles to do a bit of basic design on a simple garden plan. I gave them a plan of my front garden and asked them to spend 10 minutes using some PC principles to improve it.And they did.Despite of and not because of my over-complicated possibly quite pompous 10 minute talk beforehand.
For what its worth, details of session are below.I think the aims and outcomes were realistic but the amount of material I planned to get there was too much-by about 50%. I reckon the session would work with the design exercise at the start rather than the end of the session, if its any use to anyone, feel free to use as you wish.Theres also a 20 powerpoint slides (yeah-sorry I know...) to go with it. Microteach Aims
Aim 1. To explain what the term permaculture does / does not mean
Outcomes • Students will be able to write a few lines / say a few sentences about what permaculture is
Aim 2. To explain some of the key reasons behind the development of permaculture
Outcomes • Students will be able to explain where the term permaculture originates from • Students will be able to describe one or two factors that have led to the creation of permaculture
Aim 3. To provide some examples of the actual and potential application of permaculture to real life situations
Outcomes • Students will be able to describe one or two examples of a situation or environment where permaculture design has been used
• Students will be able to describe one or two situations where there is the potential for permaculture design to be used
Content Introduction (5mins) • Introduction-connections between the rabbit, corn and tree • An ecological design system • Founders :Mollison & Holmgren • What is an ecosystem /beneficial relationship? • Explanation of beneficial relationships in ecosystems-mirroring these-making connections • Why ? -desire for sustainable living • Oil based economy
Some principles (5mins) • Stacking • Work with nature -no dig-low maintenance • Relative location-network of beneficial relationships • Diversity • 3 functions for every element
January weekday.1723 London to Eastbourne service.
Floor rucsac guy: ‘Yeah man, I LOVE the rain. Yeah. LOVE IT.Iwon’t lie to to you I’ve had a nightmare journey but I’m here now and yeah man, hey, you know what? I haven’t got any shoes…..yeah, well I HAD shoes, but you know, well I took off my shoes and socks to relax a bit and….they were gone.’
Seat suit: ‘Yeah, hi, just on my way back from London. Well, to be honest, he was bit weak, its like he couldn’t be bothered. No, nothing I couldn’t have learnt a couple of hours reading it on my own. But if going all the way to London for 3 days is what Dave wants…. well theres only four of us and a MUPPET. Yeah and theres this Colin character. Muppet.I don’t like to say it but I think he’s a bit (pauses) slow.I normally would get to know new people in the lunch break but with him I just couldn’t be bothered- just went for a walk on my own. If you have to say something you have to say it a hundred times. I can tell you if he’s on my team, its going to be a very short probation, know what I mean?’
Floor rucsac guy: ‘Hi MAN. Yeah its me.Yeah I’m on the train to Eastbourne.I’ve got no shoes man. Coming to you like Jesus! Like JESUS.’
At Eastbourne I wait behind rucsac guy to get off. He has a pair of boots tied to the back of his rucsac.
The recent interest rate increases have hit some South coast residents harder than others.We've had to forgoe modern garments for this hardy all-purpose stone-age wear.Not sure how waterproof it is, but still, as Ray Mears says, skin is the ultimate in breathable membranes right?
Went to bed and John was on the window ledge.The next morning, he's snuggled up with Mutley puppy, a 14 month old springer spaniel,Mutley was surprised and possibly slightly disturbed at his new crate-mate
(actually its a cage but apparently we call them puppy 'crates').John does not seem to have eaten any of Mutley's food which may be a cunning ploy to endear himself to his new canine buddy-only time will tell.
He just appeared.On the window ledge of the front room on a November Sunday evening.Staring in benignly, half action man / half sophisticate. No one saw him arrive or knows how he got there, somehow one of the kids knew his name was John.
'People will DIE' Shes said it now three times.And the reaction to the most recent and dramatic utterance is no different to the previous times.Issues? The menagerie of people in this public (ish) meeting have got more issues than a UN conference. Theres the politicians.Opportunist, petulant and downright childish.The NHS senior Directors with the Powerpoint presentation, the management-nonsense speak-health communities, best value etc
And the angry-at-everybody lot. This is a pre-consultation-(non) consultation on the 're-configuration' of some of the local hospital services.Its pretty much impossible for a genuine non aligned enquirer to get near the truth of whats going on here.What it all means.Will the maternity unit close? Where are this army of community health care professionals to carry out all this dynamic home-care for the otherwise-hospitalised ?
The NHS Directors agenda is wrecked by angry speeches and shouting.The professional facilitator-local Radio DJ type manages to salvage something and when half the attenders have stormed out, there are discussions around tables with salient points summarised on the ubiquitous flipchart.Nice wish lists and aspirations that are destined for a paragraph in an event summary and not much else.
‘Now-WHEN DID YOU LAST EAT?’ a small man with an anxious manner is shouting at an elderly lady. A weekday afternoon, I was heading out of the Arndale with my late lunch and she just collapsed off the bus stop bench.
At first I thought she was just like most people who have trouble sitting on the thin strip of chest high wood that but when she remained immobile-I thought I’d better take a look.
She looked very still and rigid. That kind of worries you. I’m thinking ‘No…please….’ but just as I reach out my hand to feel her carotid pulse she wakes up and looks at me.
I say ‘Can I help you, I’m a nurse.’ Meanwhile small shouting bloke has appeared to my left and is excitedly quizzing the bewildered elderly lady on the ground at the same time as I am asking her what happened and how she’s feeling now.
Another man arrives and kneels down next to me ‘I’m a doctor’. Someone behind is calling an ambulance on their mobile. She’s a little shaken and embarrassed and being given advice and questions from at least three people. ‘NOW-you have been advised to GO TO A&E..’ the small man is helpfully summarising as the paramedics siren approaches.
That’s it for me. I tell the paramedic what I saw and let him get on with it. As I stand up I remember my lunch and look around thinking that some opportunist vegetarian Guardian reader thief has nicked my vegetable pasty and newspaper whilst shouting man and I have been trying to help. It seems kind of at odds with the whole scene of helpful strangers and it is. A language student has been holding my lunch and newspaper and hands them back to me. And I’m on my way back to work thinking good things about Eastbourne and it’s people and how they really should make those benches wider…
I found this on the edge of a town in Northern Brittany last month. Brittany is fascinating.I know that there is some kind of Breton independence movement but, as in Cornwall you only really get a glimpse of the odd bit of grafitti and some dual langauge road signs I would love to know more about it. I wonder if there are any links between the Cornish independence activists and their Breton counterparts ?
Mother of 3 beautiful, energetic children....married to a running, cycling, swimming mad man, owner of a daft springer spaniel, living at the foot of the South Downs with which we are blessed with amazing countryside and walks along the beach. I try to fit in as much of any free time I get, to be as creative as possible.....