My Hovercraft is Full of Eels

To Greece by train - and other journeys of the mind, body and soul

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Pedalling for PEDAL

September 1st, 2011 by Chris · cycling

Jane, Chris and Callum are tak­ing part in the Pedal for Scotland Glasgow to Edinburgh sponsored bike ride (51 miles) to raise money for Portobello and Leith Community wind energy project.

This is a pro­ject run by PEDAL – Portobello Transition Town and Greener Leith, to con­struct and oper­ate the UK’s first com­munity-owned wind tur­bine in a city on land at Seafield Waste Water Treatment Works, Edinburgh owned by Scottish Water, who fully sup­port the initiative.

Callum and Chris cycling past the Falkirk WheelFeasibility work shows the site to be favour­able in terms of poten­tial wind resource. The tur­bine might gen­er­ate between 2 and 4.5 mil­lion kWh of elec­tri­city per annum, enough to meet the aver­age needs of 300‑1300 house­holds. The elec­tri­city gen­er­ated will be sold to Scottish Water or the nation­al grid and gen­er­ate money for the loc­al communities.

The pro­ject is now at a cru­cial stage and we need to secure a fur­ther £10,000 of income by the end of September to pro­gress the pro­ject to plan­ning stage.

Visit the PEDAL web­site for more inform­a­tion on the pro­ject.

We have agreed to match any money we receive in spon­sor­ship up to the value of £500 – so your con­tri­bu­tion will have double its usu­al value!

You can either send your con­tri­bu­tion by post (cheques pay­able to PEDAL) to:

Jane Lewis and Chris Booth,
PEDAL wind turbine,
252 (1F2) Portobello High Street,
Edinburgh EH15 2AT

Or donate via Paypal: 

All money must be received by the end of September.

We’ve all been heav­ily involved in PEDAL over the years and would really value your sup­port to help get this pro­ject off the ground!

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Singing with Raging Grannies and bye bye USA

July 29th, 2011 by jane · travel, USA

We are sit­ting at gate S16 at Seattle Tacoma air­port wait­ing for our Icelandair flight to Glasgow via Reykjavik. I can still see the tower­ing snowy vol­can­ic peak of Mount Rainier through the win­dow, one of the many vis­tas that makes Seattle such a beau­ti­ful city.

We’ve had a great couple of days here stay­ing with Viv and Rick. Viv is a friend of Chris’ from his WRI days, and so we got a good glimpse of ‘rad­ic­al’ Seattle.

On our first night here around 30 people, includ­ing 4 or 5 Raging Grannies (one wear­ing the best raging Granny t‑shirt I have ever seen), some folk involved with the Ground Zero com­munity (nuc­le­ar sub­mar­ine base), and Chuck Esser one of the authors of the Resource Manaul for a Living Revolution, turned up for our Freedom Come All Ye protest song work­shop which Viv had kindly organ­ised. It was a great even­ing and much enjoyed, although I felt a little under­prepared. We also passed on cop­ies of the 50 years of Scottish anti­nuc­lear song­books and the Guid Cause song­book to some of the Raging Grannies and oth­er activists.They were really excited and it felt good to be passing on those songs in the know­ledge that they will be well used by act­iv­ists in oth­er corners of the world. The power of song lives on!

Yesterday Viv and Rick took us on an altern­at­ive tour of Seattle which took in the sites where the WTO protests took place, the Fremont troll and artists quarter known as the Centre of the Universe with the won­der­ful motto De Libertas Quirkas.

We fin­ished with a won­der­ful swim in Lake Washington under the watch­ful eye of Mount Rainier. As we were dry­ing off in the sun a bald eagle flew right above us — we must be in America! Truly spectacular.

Viv and I then spent a happy hour in Value Village, a thrift store super­mar­ket with many excit­ing bargains.

In addi­tion to hous­ing Bill Gates (we looked a cross at his com­plex as we swam), Starbucks, Amazon, Boeing and many oth­ers Seattle is a very green city.  Many res­id­ents are grow­ing food in the side­walks in front of their houses, and there are ‘Pea Patches’ — com­munity food grow­ing spaces.

This morn­ing I went to the museum at the Univeristy of Washington, where , in addi­tion to won­der­ful exhib­its about wolves, owls and wood­peck­ers there was some great art work and inform­a­tion about the nat­ive peoples. I enjoyed study­ing bas­ketry through Viv’s know­ledge­able eyes, and hope to finally make my own bas­ket in the not too dis­tant future.

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Hi there! :o)

July 29th, 2011 by callum · food, haha, islands, travel, USA

Hi! I’m in seattle right now and we will be get­ting on the plane in about four hours so I thought i had bet­ter write about what we’ve been doing.

Jane arrived in Portland last Friday and she was very impressed by Helsers (break­fast cafe) and Powells (the biggest ofline book­shop in the world!). Then we went to Orcas island.

We were on orcas island for four days and we went swim­ming in lakes (but not the sea [but we did paddle in Oregon])

We got to seattle two days ago and saw Pike Place mar­ket, the first ever star­bucks(©®©) and went up the second tallest sky scraper in Seattle.

I was very excited to hear that the cham­bers street museum will open today! I can hardly remem­ber what it was like!

bye now! CALLuM

PS this is what a flamingo looks like:


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Drive through ATMs and other drive throughs

July 23rd, 2011 by jane · climate change, resources, USA

In Asheville’s lovely organ­ic food store I asked where the nearest ATM was.  The very friendly chekout per­son gave me clear dir­ec­tions to a Whachovia ATM just across the park­ing lot.  I walked across and it was only when I got right there that it dawned on me that what i was doing was unusu­al beha­viour.  I’m not sure that any­one even saw me — but in a way I hope they did spot the for­eign­er walk­ing up to the drive through ATM and with­draw­ing money. I star­ted to feel strangely vul­ner­able stand­ing there in the road, as if cars were going to be com­ing at me and get­ting impa­tient with me for not fol­low­ing the norm, even though there were no cars near at all!

Today in Portland we went to the post office to post some post­cards.  Drive through.  Drive through post­boxes! Very funny.

Beth told us a story of a friend of her­’s who went to a drive through bur­ger bar on his bike and they refused to serve him.  When he insisted they called the police, who in the end took his order for him and went in to get his food.  The rationale was that drive throughs can be taget­ted by hit and run incid­ents and while their secur­ity cam­er­as are set up to pho­to­graph the regista­tion plate of a car, if you are on foot or on a bike you could eas­ily dis­ap­pear without trace after shoot­ing a few folk. It’s not funny, but rather tragic.

It’s inter­est­ing just how import­ant social norms are in shap­ing beha­viour. Everyone has a tumble drier, so even those who think more deeply about these things get one too. Washing lines can be bought, but are unusu­al.  More elec­tri­city down the drain.

And com­ing back to fly­ing — it is the norm here, not just to take one flight to your intern­al des­tin­a­tion, but to take lots of dif­fer­ent con­nec­tions to reach your des­tin­a­tion in the cheapest way. Delta Airlines scares me, with its web of too many red flight lines cris­scross­ing the States each day.

And now for the pos­it­ive story! On my last day in Asheville, NC over break­fast Laura and I were dis­cuss­ing the poetry fest­iv­al she has been organ­ising for the last 4 years and how she could incor­por­ate ideas from geo­po­et­ics, weav­ing togeth­er strands of sci­ence, poetry (emo­tion) and spritu­al­ity. The con­ver­sa­tion ended with Laura com­mit­ted to mak­ing the next Asheville Wordfest a zero car­bon event, hav­ing poets and oth­ers enga­ging in con­ver­sa­tion by weblink, and look­ing into ped­al powered screens. If that hap­pens I will have helped to save no end of air­mil­es, and who knows how many oth­er sim­il­ar fest­ivals may fol­low her lead. Does that jus­ti­fy my jour­ney here? It’s always good to make a dif­fer­ence, and whilst this is turn­ing into a truly amaz­ing and inspir­ing trip, I still don’t know if I can really jus­ti­fy so much car­bon emis­sions. I feel as if I am liv­ing on bor­rowed car­bon and Chris and I have decided to put some money into the Portobello Wind Turbine as our ‘car­bon off­set’. (More on that later)

My latest the­ory is that the aver­age US cit­izen car­ries on regard­less because there is no vis­ible effect of their life­style. The wil­der­ness is huge and inspir­ing and beau­ti­ful, so why not enjoy a big car and a few dozen flights each year?

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Breakfast at Helsers on Alberta

July 23rd, 2011 by Chris · food, USA

Breakfast at Helsers
Dutch baby pancake.

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July 22nd, 2011 by Chris · photos, USA

Camping overnight at Breitenbush Hot Springs. Amazing old forests (Douglas firs and hem­locks), soak­ing in the hot springs, and an extremely new age yoga class.

Douglas firs at Beitenbush

Breitenbush sauna

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Road to Damascus

July 22nd, 2011 by Chris · signage, USA

A hum­drum eph­phany in Oregon.

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Portland!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

July 18th, 2011 by callum · Uncategorized

Two days ago me and Chris took the plane to Portland, Oregon and Jane went to Ashville, North Carolina. During the 4 12 hour flight, the in-flight shop­ping magazine made up for the poor enter­tain­ment. It had everything from fake plastic rocks to mas­sage chairs and tow­el warmers!

this is the plane that we went on to Portland

Portland is great and has way bet­ter food than Michegan.  The next day we went up a very steep moun­tain to see a huge water­fall it is the second highest in the world! Then we went to a trout hatch­ery and saw some huge white stur­geons. After that we went to a dam and saw the trout (and lampray) lad­der. There is and a little office, with a win­dow next to the trout lad­der, with someone in it count­ing all the fish that go past.


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Camping @ Lake Michigan

July 17th, 2011 by callum · food, islands, travel, USA

When we got to the the camp­site, the first thing I saw was a chip­munk! Please see my last post for some photos.

The next day (after eat­ing some highly colored break­fast cer­eal) we went to Big Sable* Point light­house on the edge of lake Michigan and walked along the beach to find a swim­ming spot without too many dead fish. We swam in the lake for a while but we could­n’t go very deep because of currents.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

In the even­ing we swam in a smal­ler (but still very big) lake next to the camp­site called lake Hamlin.

The next day we went on a walk around the islands in lake Hamlin and saw some trees that had been gnawed and felled by beavers. We then set off on the long car ride back stop­ping on the way at an ice cream shop that was in an old rail­way caboose.

*Pronounced “saa­bel”

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July 17th, 2011 by callum · food, photos, USA

At the camp­site we’ve been stay­ing at there are loads of chip­munks! The people on the site next to us thought I was crazy think­ing they were cute because they’re a pest here.

here are some pic­tures of chip­munks that I took using pea­nut but­ter as bait.


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