Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Segaki at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey

Rosebay Willowherb seed heads. When Rosebay Willowherb is pink, we are in Summer. When Rosebay Willowherb sets its white cottony seeds, Summer has finished.

Baby ferns growing in the wall

A small mossy creature

I stayed at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey for a couple of weeks recently. I was there for the Segaki retreat.
The pictures above of the view from the main entrance were from my visit at the same time last year, but last year I had not got round to posting them on here.
There were some very useful talks given by senior monks.
Listen or download them here

Recycling old spectacles

For anyone who wears spectacles you may have some old specs you don't wear anymore. Or perhaps you know another person in your social circle who has old specs lying around.
There is a charity called Vision Aid which collects spectacles of all kinds and takes them to countries where there is no state health care, national health service and people are living in difficult situations, some of them have never had an eye test and would never be able to afford to buy glasses. I remember when I was very young and I was taken to the optician and got my first pair of glasses. When I put them on I was completely amazed at what I could see. Before glasses, everything was blurred and I could not see anything in the distance. However, not knowing any different, I did not realise I was severely short sighted. Children usually believe their own experience is the same as other people's experience, whether that be their abilities or their living situation.
So Vision Aid collects these pre-used glasses, then sends them to areas where people are in need of eye care, and with their teams of optical professionals, matches the glasses to those who need them.
In Newcastle, SpecSavers in Eldon Square have a collection box for these glasses. I went there yesterday and gave them to one of the staff to put in the box.
In the video it shows exactly what happened to me, through the story of a child in Sierra Leone.

Sunday, 11 October 2015


I was reading about the use of microbeads in toiletries.
These are microscopic plastic beads, used as ingredients.

Vegan and Vegetarian Toiletries and Cosmetics at Superdrug

Recently I wrote about the difficulty of finding widely available and inexpensive toiletries suitable for vegetarians ad vegans. I am happy to find that a lot can now be found in Superdrug. As well as being certified as not been tested on animals, it is easy to find Superdrug own brand products which contain no animal ingredients.

I have been using the Vitamin E night cream for some time now

It smells nice and has a pleasant consistency.

Since The Co-op stopped selling their own brand styling mousse I have been finding it impossible to buy a styling mousse suitable for vegans and vegetarians in local shops and have been buying one by mail order from Vegan Store. So I was very pleased to find one available at Superdrug.

Spiders' webs in Jesmond Dene

Jeff found these two spiders waiting at the centre of their webs, which were suspended from vegetation over the Ouseburn.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Jesmond Dene to Paddy Freeman's Park

Last week we were in Jesmond Dene, and managed to find our way up to Paddy Freeman's Park, which was convenient for an appointment at the Freeman Hospital which I needed to attend.
On the way we passed some abandoned derelict buildings which were not marked on any map, only the well known (if not notorious) derelict, well and truly closed Fisherman's Lodge Restaurant being found on the internet.
The abandoned derelict buildings appear to date from the same period as Fisherman's Lodge but I have not managed to find any information about them.

One of the popular iconic bridges over the little Ouseburn

Some blackberries and roseships on the overgrown banks of the Ouseburn

And here is some video footage of wildlife on the Ouseburn

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Is soap suitable for vegetarians?

Recently I read a question about why soap may not be suitable for vegetarians (and vegans).
There are 2 answers, one about the ingredients and the other about testing on animals.
Many soaps are made with sodium tallowate, a fat made from animal carcasses, a "cheap" ingredient which is a waste product in slaughterhouses. Obviously not vegetarian. If you wouldn't eat meat, why would you rub meat on your body?
Assume the soap's made with animal fat unless you have checked, as most of the big names are. Some are ok, such as Imperial Leather and Simple. Tesco do a few, such as Tesco Aloe Vera And Green Tea Soap 100G also their Everyday Value Soap 125G does not contain sodium tallowate.
There are many companies which specialise in vegetarian soaps, such as Suma, Lush, Faith in Nature, Oliva, however they do tend to be expensive and not widely available.
Vegetarian soaps are also appreciated by people who want to avoid animal fat for religious reasons for example observant Sikhs and Hindus who are strict vegetarians, and Jews and Muslims don't want non-kosher and non halal ingredients to be used.
The answer about testing on animals is complicated. Many companies do still test their products on animals even though testing of cosmetics and toiletries has been outlawed in many countries. This question is beyond my level of expertise.