Camping weekend in Guildford, UK

I haven’t posted in ages.. life has got in the way (insert boring details)

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This weekend I have been camping… yes! I hadn’t done in ages and really loved it. It certainly helped that the weather was graciously good and they offered very decent facilities!

It was for the EMF Camp that takes place every two years – a large gathering of investigative minds and non-grown-up folks. In the words of the organisers:

Electromagnetic Field is a non-profit UK camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

There were various activities – from talks to workshops, soldering sessions, blacksmithing, make-you-very-own-ring, villages (people with a shared interest of any legit sort), retro arcade…. (incomplete list by any means). An amazing varied crowd attended – families, geeks, alternative people, all genders/ages/tastes, from as far as Germany and Netherlands, Ireland (as well as from Scotland, Wales and England).

I tried out soldering, put up/down my very own tent with no hiccups (first-timer), played retro video-games. Generally had a fab time and felt very much in sync with the spirit and the landscape (amazing location, did I mention already?).

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My very own happy tent

My newbie soldering (left, and left)

The Retro Arcade – play anything vintage, for free

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The creator of the smallest sat (which orbited for 22 months, but found no cosmic rays – hope I got this right). http://www.50dollarsat.info and amsat.org

I also tasted freshly made Dutch Stroopwafel (a heavenly delicious recipe involving loads of butter, I understand). Sadly the blacksmithing was booked out, doh.

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Stroopwafel, freshly made on the spot (note my reusable light-weight container!)

…And got to wear flip-flops, walked bare-footed, sat on hay bales and got closer to Mother Nature. Big win.

The organisers made an excellent job and all ran smoothly. A big thank you!

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Jam making VS food waste

Long time no post… There is a lot to catch up with!

I’m now working so I try to keep the spare time during the weekend for offline activities.

I have been reading with interest about people trying to live in a more sustainable way and I try to contribute myself – through small steps and actions – to a better future for the planet.

Apart from buying less of unnecessary things, I buy more local or sustainable (although it’s hard to know/find the truth about origin, process of making etc. in these times of hype marketing and displaced purchasing).

Anyway, let me cut this story a bit shorter.

This summer and autumn I have been making jam from gathered berries and the odd fruits bought in season and even from salvaged fruits!

I made elderberry jam (sorry no pictures) from berries I salvaged when some elder plants had to be cut to refurbish my balcony in Austria.

Back in London, I was gathering blackberries at the local natural park. I also bought some in-season English raspberries, which, because they were a few days old stock, had been strongly reduced – so I saved money and avoided it going to waste; but next time I’ll try to find some local produce, instead of buying from a supermarket.

Finally, one day on my way back home, a local seller was disposing of some damaged fruit (that is, he left the baskets by the road-side for waste collection).. I felt a bit bad to take it, so I didn’t stop. After thinking a bit about it, the idea of the fruit going to waste was making me feel really bad!

Once a friend told me that I’m a “war child”, which luckily I’m not. Though I do listen with interest to stories from people who have gone through hardship. My late mum told me of when she was a child and their family was poor and while the adults were out working in the fields, the kids were at home and there wasn’t much food, so sometimes they went searching for bird eggs or wild salad… I don’t think such stories only belongs to the past or third-world countries: there are many children and families living below the poverty line even here in the UK (3.7 million children were living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14, that’s 28% of children).

Anyway, the bottom line is that I did go back and took some of the little that, by then, was left  on the street – a few small baskets of figs and some strawberries; they were a bit damaged but a good part could be salvaged for jam making after removing the wasted parts. I also added some more berries I harvested during another walk. So that became “figs & berries” jam.

I really enjoyed harvesting the fruit, making my own jam – which I’m now using instead of the store-purchased one – and knowing exactly what ingredients went in the product!

PS some links…

and some “easy” wisdom:

  • use less
  • buy local
  • also buy the product that is less pretty – taste is not less
  • serve just enough
  • use what is left
  • don’t throw away, just don’t