Friday, 30 July 2010

Blackout Curtains

Eventually I got round to replacing the roller blinds in the bedroom with blackout curtains. Thanks to Jeff for helping put up a curtain rain and hang the curtains.
Living on a main road, with high intensity streetlights, it was difficult to sleep at night with the traffic noise. There's flashing lights from emergency vehicles and nocturnal street sweepers; and other slow moving maintenance vehicles which seem to go on training exercises at night time here; and light pollution from the streetlights.
I have been asked to write where I got the curtains, so here is a link

click here for the curtain shop .
I was really pleased with them and they are only made over the other side of the Pennines in Lancashire!
They are very well made, arrived quickly and do what they claim to do!
So now its actually dark at night when we want to get to sleep, and hopefully will keep out some of the traffic noise too.
On the subject of traffic there are only 2 days left to object to plans to build a huge 24 hour Tesco on the site of Newcastle General Hospital.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Flat Dwelling

Last Monday I had a "Property MOT" on my flat, which is an annual inspection to sort out any minor repairs which may need doing on a periodic basis.
I got my kitchen door hinge fixed so it did not blow open when it was windy. It was annoying when I was in the kitchen cooking with the door shut and the window open, and the door would blow open and the window would blow shut at the same time. The repairman identified I needed a new mixer tap in the kitchen as it leaked pretty badly. So today he came back and spent a long time fitting a new mixer tap, hurting his arm in the process! I think I know how to fit a new mixer tap now but I know an intensive bodybuilding course would need to be completed first!
He also had a look at the seal on my elderly double glazing where water leaks in when it rains heavily, and he identified it is coming in via the window catch and running down inside the seal. Water was also coming in through the telephone socket and oxidising the copper in the jack.
All this is due to improperly fitting and blocked guttering, when the water runs off the roof into the gutter, it floods into the corner of the guttering and cascades off it, at the corner above my window and telephone inlet.
So we went outside to have a look. He thinks the drainpipe is actually full of water which cannot drain away, as well.
My telephone cable was improperly positioned, which means water was flowing down it and into the brick and the hole where the cable enters. He has siliconed the cable, adjusted it, and is going to follow up the guttering issue, because it is a Big Job which needs scaffolding.
On the subject of water getting into the building,recently there were broken pipes on both the odd and even numbers bathrooms, which were leaking down the front of the building for literally years and causing damp. We have now been able to get those pipes fixed, which involved getting into tenants homes and identifing where the leaks were starting from, but there is still a problem with another pipe on the even side near the ground, which we are trying to get fixed. Once water gets into brick it likes to spread itself around and find its level, so can wet a whole wall if not stopped.

Buddhist Altar

Not long after my week long retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey, I gave some thought to the Reverend's comment "If you haven't already got an altar, now is the time to get one".
So, looking around the room I found these items to put together to provide an area for Buddhist practice. The altar gives the Buddhist something to bow in front of, and bowing is very important to Zen Buddhism.

What do we bow to?

We bow to Buddha nature in everything, and our willingness to train. See the link above for more explanation.
The cabinet is an old teak sideboard which I inherited from my maternal grandmother some years ago. Maybe made in the 1950s?
In the centre is a photo print of Buddha sitting in meditation, which I bought in the bookshop at Throssel at the end of one of my retreats. It used to hang on the wall. The photo stands on a lace mat which came with the sideboard from my grandmother. They both sit on a CD player which I use to listen to Dharma talks and music which I like.
The Kesa (small ceremonial scarf) which I was given during the Jukai retreat, is stored in front of the Buddha when not in use, I think it will keep him warm if he feels cold.
In front of the Buddha is an aromatherapy burner with a scented candle inside it, sometimes I put incense in this spot instead but I have run out of incense.
On the left is a bowl of fruit, which I have just started to put on the altar as an offering. The fruit can be eaten normally, nothing in Buddhism is wasted.
Behind the fruit bowl is a photo of Jeff and I at Scotswood Natural Community Garden a few years ago. Some Buddhists put photos of deceased family members on their altars.
On the far left are some special papers with teachings in them that I was given.
On the right hand side there is a card with flowers on it which Jeff gave me when I returned from the Jukai retreat. I have learned it is traditional to put flowers on the altar. On the left of the flower card is a bowl of pine cones from Scotland, another kind of fruit. Mainly pine cones from Dalbeattie Town Wood, in Dumfries and Galloway.
We can put stuff we are going to give to someone on the altar before we give it, so there is a bag of tea lights to take to the meditation group tomorrow, and a CD which I was loaned, which I am going to return.
There is also a decorated pot with water in it, the water symbolises the refreshment of meditation and the willingness to offer hospitality and help.

Friday, 16 July 2010

More news on Plans for Tesco to develop Hospital Site

I decided to use today's post to publicise a few of the web sites and pages which relate to the plans to build a 24 hour superstore on the historic site of Newcastle General Hospital.

The most important one is a link to the planning department at Newcastle City Council, where people are putting their comments, both for and against the planning application
You can look at it here If you want to comment you have to request an account from the planning department and log in before commenting. It's quite easy but you have to provide an email address and then be patient while they send you a registration. The planning site will sometimes go "down" for maintenance during the afternoons.

There is a local campaign to stop the plans to build a megastore on the site
Here is their website

The latest I have heard is that there will be traffic restrictions on the West Road, thus pushing traffic out into the other roads, which are mostly terraces of high density housing and blocks of flats which are high density social housing: Leazes Court, Queen's Court, and Sutton Dwellings, social housing blocks on Stanhope Street, as well as polluting our green spaces, Town Moor, Leazes Park and and Nun's Moor Park with 24/7 traffic noise and emissions, and that means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

The campaign also has a Facebook page

And a twitter page

The consortium who wants to develop the hospital site uploaded a promotional video on youTube some time ago, showing a futuristic virtual world, which does not include either cars or 24 Hour Tesco superstore. Have a look at it here

If you have a youtube account you can comment on it.

Monday, 12 July 2010


I have not managed to get out and about with my camera recently, so I'm not posting any new photos today.
The trees and bushes around here have really increased in height this year, some by a few feet since last year, maybe due to the very cold winter and hot weather earlier in the summer.

There has been a blackbird family and a sparrow family nesting in the hedge outside my bedroom this year, and today I saw one of the young blackbirds foraging on the ground near the nest. The young sparrows have been out munching on the green dog rose sprouts (or was it the little insects they can see but I can't)?
On the subject of what I can see, I treated myself to some new lenses for my glasses, this year I got varifocals which go dark when I go out in the sun... since I read about spending too much time in the sun being a contributory cause of cataracts I am trying to protect the middle aged eyes a bit more.
Other news, Tesco have put in another planning application to Newcastle City Council to build a superstore on the site of Newcastle General Hospital.

Read about it in the local press

As I live in the area I received a copy of the planning application, I had not seen the newspaper article in April.

While walking through the Hospital grounds recently I felt somewhat sad to see so much of it closed down or demolished... canteen where I used to have dinner when I worked there, demolished, now a car park, pathology lab semi derelict and waiting for probably demolition, many outpatients services all closed up or demolished. Accident and Emergency Department still in healthy working order and doing a wonderful job, as I found for myself last year during an emergency admission at least as far as I can remember as I not in a fit state to make value judgements! I get the impression the hospital site is in limbo at the moment, since Tesco bought the land without planning permission, the NHS Foundation Trust cannot proceed with any plans for the site.

Look at the Foundation Trust site here
You will not see any of these plans, however you will see how many services have been removed from our so- called "General" Hospital Please visit there for latest news from Herbwormwood