Sunday, April 14, 2013

Portsmouth Sure Start Centres

Heavy rain didn't stop a large, vibrant crowd of people turning out for the demo in Portsmouth this weekend to protest against the Government cuts of Sure Start Centres and the plans specifically in Portsmouth to merge centres, cut staff, resources and services. Four hundred Sure Start centres have been closed already over the last couple of years across the country. It was great to see so many kids and parents and heartfelt speeches from the people who know how much Sure Start Centres can mean to families and children.


 The Portsmouth News was there to cover the rally and march:

Leaflets were being handed out to publicise a public meeting at the end of the month:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Hares on Portsdown Hill!

I bet I get someone claiming they're rabbits, but they're HARES I tell you, HARES! They were sat upright then raced very fast down the hill as if intent on preventing me from taking a decent photo ;)

It's not far out of the city, but it can provide some far-reaching space and views across open countryside. It's the best place we've found locally for kite-flying and watching meteor showers at night if the time is right. It's a shame what an agricultural monoculture much of our countryside has become. I always look at the vast expanses of bare earth or single crops and imagine it transformed into a huge diversity of forest gardens, permaculture style, growing food for the city and involving many more of us in its production. At least it's not all been covered in houses and roads yet.

There were loads of new nettles coming up which reminded me it's that beautiful time of year when we can start making fresh nettle soup...yummy! Also, we saw lots of blackthorn trees in the hedgerows which we know from previous years produce an abundance of sloes for making sloe gin in the Autumn. The blossoms are edible too and have a slight almond taste. Some people crystallise them to make cake decorations. Most species of the blackthorn contain the toxin, hydrogen cyanide, as is found in apple pips, (this produces the almond flavour) which can be harmful in large amounts, so do your research and make an informed choice. Eating a few blossoms and using the berries in drinks is unlikely to cause a problem. Consuming hydrogen cyanide via cigarettes or industrial pesticides is much more cause for concern.

The lovely walk did however evoke a pet hate of mine... some people seem to have the strange idea that if you wrap your dog's poo up in a PLASTIC bag and put it in the hedge, that the hedge fairies will magically take it away and make it disappear. Seriously, I'd rather risk stepping in it than see all the plastic waste all over the place! If you can't take it to the dog bin, it doesn't take much to just move it with a couple of sticks off the path into the undergrowth where it at least has a chance of composting naturally.

It was a really misty day on our walk up Portsdown Hill this week but despite that and the wintry chill still stubbornly clinging to the air, there were people spreading their picnic blankets out and sitting down together to enjoy their feast and the views over Portsmouth. Which is quite encouraging really!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Portsmouth Food Bank Gig

This week me and my son went along to The Birdcage room above The Festing pub in Southsea, for a benefit gig which was raising money for the Portsmouth Food Bank. It was lovely to find such a fine amount of anarchists and other friendly people there, so we got our drinks, found a comfy sofa and bounced along to the acoustic mix of folk-punk songs that followed. It was good to see the pile of donated food for the Food Bank getting bigger .
Olive Anne
Ash Victim

Food donations for the Portsmouth Food Bank
Some Sort Of Threat
We were waiting for the guitar with the 'non sleeping side' label to wake up but its owner Dangle Manatee must have played after we had to leave. As well as enjoying the music for a good cause, I got to hang out for the evening with the excellent Donna and Daisy who along with my son, seemed to be practicing some interesting folk-punk photography. This is a pic my son took which clearly illustrates the sort of crazy fun that can be had when you make the effort to go out and enjoy yourself in Portsmouth!
The whole night was in aid of The Portsmouth Food Bank an organisation which is sure to become more of a necessity given the Government's enthusiastic commitment to attacking the poor. 
The Food Bank is run by volunteers based at Kings Church on Elm Grove. They provide food for up to a family of four for 3 days in a crisis situation - local people in need of food and who can't afford it. Visit their website to find out more about how it works or call in and meet them and drop off donations (check their site for opening times).