BT Notes – good times …

Since our last newsletter we have had some good times.  There was the visit of Ed and Mary-Lou from Canada which we enjoyed so much.  It was wonderful to share a few weeks with them and we are so grateful for their time here.  They pitched in with everything, as usual, and gave us a bit of a holiday from the usual routine.

As their time in Ireland came to an end, I left for a week or so in India where I visited the Pestalozzi Asian Village in Dehradun.  It is more than a decade since I was in India and this was my first visit to Dehradun.  When I visited in the mid-90s the population of the country was 850 million; today it is 1.2 billion.  In a decade they’ve added the population of the US to a country with a quarter of the land area!  It is a country of great contrasts – those making a living in garbage to those living in princely splendour.  It is amazing how well the country works.  There is great tolerance and adaptation.  The best part of the trip was meeting the children and people who make the Asian Village work so well.  It was a pleasure to see children who appreciated an education and engaged with life in so many ways.  Eventually I’ll get the photos of the others who participated and put them online in the gallery which shows a different world to the one we know here.

In the meantime a video telling the stories of three Pestalozzi scholars was completed by filmaker Dick Roberts.  You can see it online hereThanks to Colm McElwee for doing an amazing job of converting the video from NTSC to PAL and producing a number of copies of both.  (Colm did an amazing job and I hope he’ll help make the next video.  I highly recommend him for any video work from parties and weddings to conversion of tape to disk etc – his website is

We also had a visit from a couple of new friends – Juliana and Richard Fenn, who visited us on a brief trip through Ireland and then came back for a week or so to pursue a “writers’ retreat” here.  They are both authors – Richard being a prolific author of academic books on spirituality and religion in society.  They gave me encouragement to write a story about changing course from suit to soil.  That has turned out to be more difficult than I ever imagined, but fun.  Thanks for the encouragement Richard and Juliana.

On the subject of books, (my hero) Pratchett’s latest is out.  Unseen Academicals about football!  Enjoy.

It must be winter now.  It’s still dark when we feed the cats and birds in the morning.  The frost has brought down most of the remaining leaves, though beech trees somehow hang on to theirs.  I’m spending more time logging.   And the “office” has moved next to the stove because the study (ex-garage) is ?!@£$%& freezing.

The logging can be quite fun – in the woods, clearing ground, cutting up a fallen tree and bringing it back to the log shed.  We got a couple of loads done over the weekend and would have got more if the equipment was a bit more reliable – an engine valve ring comes off every now and then and the last time it was just after sundown in the woods so I fixed it by torch light – a first. If you are interested in logging with me, give me a call to arrange it (9155037).

The garden looks a bit more under control, mostly because the cold has stopped growth.  The last few tomatoes are coming out of the green house and a few beets and chard are still harvesting.  The chickens did quite well this summer.  Three hens produced about 15 chicks all now big enough to survive winter, provided fantastic mr fox doesn’t call on us.   The maintenance list is long and it is not too soon to prepare for next season.  Some planting can even start now – allium (and flowering bulbs if you cultivate flowers) can go in, and green house plants can be ordered for seeding in a month so.

Though sometimes it seems that planning becomes redundant because of the weather – we had a surprisingly wet summer and November has been one of the wettest on record, though also warm enough to promote some spring blooms in the garden!  This kind of fluctuation gives credence to the idea of climate change, but that observation seems to have passed our leaders by, as have the lessons of the recession.  We are paying for those mistakes of economic mismanagement, so I wonder how soon the ecological mismanagement is going to punish us.  Some would say it’s happening now – as they wade about their kitchen or watch their livestock float across the fields.  The Copenhagen Summit in December is billed as a last chance to change human consumption patterns.  But its outcome will be similar to that of Johannesburg and Kyoto – too little too late.  Until everyone, especially those in developed economies like us, changes behaviour the problems of society, economy and ecology will continue.  But Christmas is coming so we must accumulate large amounts of plastic, get more stuff and travel to the melting Alps.

Or if you have your feet in the ground, make something for your family and friends instead.  One of our readers, Joe, sent his recipe for Sweet Tomato Relish (see below) which he says is ideal to lift a boring sandwich or great with cheese.  Thanks Joe!

You can look forward to the last few weeks of Pam’s winter yoga classes.  Or maybe give a spring course of lessons to a friend as a special Christmas present (call Pam on 9155037 for a voucher).

As we head towards the longest night (in the northern hemisphere), about 21 December, it is the season to think about new beginnings.  Let’s wish for peace and love and getting through difficult times



Joe’s Sweet Tomato Relish


  • 2kg Tomatoes

  • 500g Onions – chopped

  • 2 Red & 2 Green Bell Peppers – chopped

  • 2 Apples – peeled, cored and chopped

  • 2 stalk Celery – chopped

  • Dried chillies (a few)

  • 750ml Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 2 dessertspoons Tomato Puree

  • 500g Sugar

  • 2 tablespoons Salt

  • 1 dessertspoon Mustard Powder or Seeds

  • 1 dessertspoon Mild Curry Powder

  • Garlic crushed or small amount of Ground Garlic Powder

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon cloves – grounded

  • 1 teaspoon of Allspice

  • !/2 teaspoon Cayenne

  • 1 teaspoon of coarse Black Pepper

  • Extra cup of vinegar and 1 tablespoon Corn flour

Peel Tomatoes (blanch). Chop into small pieces, add chopped celery onion and peppers, mix together add the salt and leave to soak overnight in fridge, drain thoroughly next day.

Transfer to large cooking pot. Add all including sugar spices and vinegar. Make sure sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil, boil rapidly for 5 minutes and then simmer for 1 hour (remove scum) keep stirring frequently. To thicken relish mix corn flour with your extra cup of vinegar and make into a smooth paste add little at a time until it thickens.

Bottle into hot sterilised jars and seal when cold

All ingredients are approx and may need adjusting to your taste.

Make approx 10 medium sized jars.

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