My Top 7 New Year’s Parenting Resolutions

This morning I played Kick the Can and Dodge Ball and running games on the beach with my kids and their friends. We’re on holiday right now and I have time to play all day long. It was great fun and it reminded me how much I loved these games when I was a child.

Yesterday lunchtime however saw the return of my unattractive pinched, sucking-on -lemons facial expression as my 5-year-old decided to take control of her plate of food and chose – yet again – not to eat it.

Yesterday I was tight-lipped, stressed mum. This morning I was carefree, fun-loving mum.

What happened?

I don’t believe the reason is as simple as: today the kids were lovely and yesterday they were horrid.

I do believe that we manifest our reality, and if we’re not feeling good in ourselves then it’s pretty difficult to enjoy being with others. And children are of course expert sponges: they mirror back at us exactly what we’re putting out there.

I know we all have good days and bad days, and I embrace my not so perfect parenting. However, this past week I’ve been reflecting on the small changes I can make to my life that can make it more rewarding and enjoyable for myself and for my family.

1. Meditate each morning

I resolve to meditate when  I wake up each morning.

I do meditate but find sticking to a regular early morning meditation the most challenging. But this week has taught me that if I meditate first thing in the morning, and meditate specifically on how I would like to parent my children that day, then I become the mother I’d like to be that day.

If I don’t practice my meditation in the morning, then what results is a trickier time with my children. Meditation puts me back in touch with who I am and who I want to be. It’s as easy as that.

2. Play catch, chase or dodge ball at least once a week

I resolve to play with my children as often as I can, and enjoy it.

Admittedly it’s easier on holiday — as there’s not exactly much else competing with my time. But when I’m at home I find that if  I play chase around the kitchen or dodge ball in that hour before supper then  I can defuse the after-school exhaustion with fun and games.

3. Let go a little

I resolve to remember that my kids are growing older and to remember to let go a little; give them room to breathe.

They’re now about to turn 6 and 8. They’re not so little any more. And I’ve only just realised it.

4. Stop trying to control them

I resolve to let my kids make more of their own choices, to allow them to make some mistakes, and give them the ability to learn responsibility for their decisions.

If my 7-year-old wants to wear his dirty, ripped, track-suit bottoms each day, with the same two t-shirts alternating every other day, then I need to just let him  - and do it without emitting an involuntary sigh each time he gets dressed.

I was never given this choice growing up as I lived in a strictly authoritarian household where the grip was tight and parental control was paramount. It’s recently dawned on me that the only way to escape passing this on to my children is to make a conscious choice not to. This sounds pretty obvious, but my experience has revealed to me that my upbringing provided me with the only blueprint for how to parent.  Simply believing that this was not the way I would parent my children was not enough to stop my tendency to try to control them leaking out.

5. Listen more

I resolve to listen more and talk less.

I find more and more that my kids reveal so much about the important things in their inner lives if only I would listen more carefully.

6. Don’t panic when they refuse to eat their broccoli

I resolve to not get stressed when they refuse to eat their vegetables.

This is a biggie. (For many of us). Meal-times have become maddening (for me).

I know my getting stressed won’t make them eat their vegetables.

I realise that they’re just trying to wrestle control over one area of their lives.

But knowing all this still doesn’t seem to be able to stop me wanting to pull my hair out at dinner time, or run screaming from the kitchen and not look back. This may sound familiar to you, or this may sound a bit dramatic, but my kids are very aware how their refusal to eat what I’ve cooked for them winds me up. So, I resolve to not let it.

How exactly am I going to master this challenge? By simply deciding to not let it wind me up. They’ve reached the age of where I can reason with them, so I will explain to them that if they want the bad stuff (we all know what that is) then they have to eat the good stuff. End of.

And I’m not going to argue with them any more over exactly how many pieces of broccoli they need to eat before they can eat the bad stuff (or even if the stalks have to be eaten too).  They’ll just know that they’ll not get any puddings, or ice-cream until they do.

Whether this will actually help me to remain calm at all meal-times has yet to be proven as I’ve just started to implement it. But so far, so good.

(Maybe you have some methods that work miracles at meal-times?)

7. Change myself before trying to change them

I resolve to look at myself and my own behaviour before embarking on trying to change a behavioural pattern in my child.

It’s true that children hold a mirror up to ourselves.

But I tend to forget that.

Especially when confronted by either aggressive or overly irritable behaviour by my children.

I often find that once I’ve looked at myself and addressed my own attitude or behaviour towards them then they will duly change. As I’ve said before, they reflect back at us exactly what we do and how we are. I find this useful to remember.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

163. Write out your own resolutions and see how you can improve your life and that of your family

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The eco renovation: a house has risen from the ruins

The ruin has risen from the earth and we now have what looks like a house.

The windows are now in, and the walls have been repointed with the natural lime and river sand mix that gives the building a more finished look, reminiscent perhaps of how it once stood when it was first built.

We began building only a couple of months ago, and although theoretically it shouldn’t take too long to turn a ruin into a house, it still feels as though this has been a rapid transition, and subsequent transformation.

It’s also been a pretty painless process. And I know that’s down to having a good team: a reliable, honest, hard-working, experienced builder who has renovated many small farmhouses in the area just like this one; a great project manager, who knows when to crack the whip, and crucially knows just how to do it without upsetting anyone; and a good architect, who isn’t governed by an ego that dictates how a build is going to progress (with or without your true wishes in mind). Our architect listens when I have doubts, amends plans when I need changes, and, critically, possesses sound taste.  This all translates into me trusting her judgement and valuing her opinion.

I’m very pleased with the colour of the window frames. Such details may seem superfluous or even trivial but we’re building with the objective that this house will stand for another few hundred years and will weather well with time.

It’s important to get these details right so that in years to come no-one will think the colour or style so offensive they’ll rip out the windows and replace the frames with something they think more tasteful. (And therefore waste something perfectly well functioning). Of course something so subjective as personal taste ebbs and flows with the fashions of time. But my little experience shows me that if you build and choose well, your choices will overcome the fickleness of fashion and will last the vagaries of time. This suggests of course that I believe I have good taste.

(Well, don’t we all?)

 

 

&

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An Eco Renovation: when possible choose local

 

This is how the renovation stands today. As I said in my previous post, and as you can see, the roof is now on. But we can’t get moving on the plumbing or electrics until the windows are in. And these are in the hands right now of the local ironmonger who is making us some lovely metal window frames, in a deep rust colour (to complement the colour of the bricks, the stone and terracotta tile roof). We considered wooden window frames, but in the end opted for the low maintenance and therefore in our eyes more cost efficient material.

We also like the idea of the ironmonger (whose workshop is a few miles away from here) crafting our window frames. He’s a local craftsman, whose work comes highly recommended.

the unpainted frames

We’ve employed a local carpenter, who has been working for many years from his workshop in the town just down the hill. We’ve commissioned him to make our bedroom and bathroom floors from reclaimed oak. He sources the oak from railway sleepers and fashions them into floorboards. He’s currently searching for an eco-friendly underfloor lining which will provide some insulation.

All the craftsmen and builders we’ve employed are local and are using local techniques on all their work. This is important to us, and a significant element towards keeping the integrity of the building.

An added, unexpected, bonus to employing locals is that they all know each other, or have worked with each other. This makes on site meetings a friendly and communal experience. Many of these guys (yes, they are all invariably male) have been in their business for a long time and have seen many changes to the land in their time.

Also, my project manager lives locally and knows all these guys, and has worked with many of them before on other projects. Not only is she a friend of mine, but she’s a formidable project manager: she’s charming, but, crucially, no-one messes with her.

Fortunately, she, my architect and myself inject a tripartite female energy into the build. You may wonder why this should matter. And you’d be right to wonder. It shouldn’t make any difference whether it’s an all male or all female team. However, the reality is that French building sites are invariably male and are even more traditional environments than in the UK. This translates as: intimidating to women. And although I’m the client (and by definition would encounter less disrespect) it definitely helps that there are two other professional, experienced women on board.

By the time I write my next post the windows should be in. So far, so smooth. My crack team is doing the job.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to feed your family after Christmas — and feel good and waste nothing

So here I am, a mere two days after Christmas, and I’m still chopping vegetables.

It could be worse: it could be two days after Christmas and still not able to face any food at all without retching. Luckily, I do indulge, but age has allowed me the wisdom to decline the forth mince pie and second helping of ice-cream. However, I feel it would be disingenuous of me if I didn’t admit to stealing chocolate coins from my children’s stockings as well as harbouring a lustful intent to devour this year’s entire collection of Montezuma’s weighty tennis-ball sized chocolate christmas tree baubles.   Yes, you’ve guessed it, I — like millions of other addicts — have a nasty chocolate habit.

So, no, I’m not feeling smug about my ability to carry on cooking and eating so soon after the Big Day.  I have just found a way to do it that enables me to feel good about myself (as opposed to slightly embarrassed) and I wanted to share it with you.

I know I’m not the only one left with a mountain of cooked and uncooked vegetables and meat in my cupboard and fridge.  I know this is a universal problem. We’re all left to manage our left-overs in a way that will result in good food to eat  … and no waste.

It sounds simple, and I do believe that the key to good food management lies in the preparation. If we all plan what we eat, whether it’s Christmas or not, we’d throw out so much less.

I do compost my food waste, but even so, that’s still no way to manage my family’s food: it’s financially wasteful as well as just being generally wasteful.

And I don’t know about you, but all the food I chuck in my compost bin feels, well, wasteful.

So here’s what I did with our left-overs.

These are three easy, very straight-forward, and ultimately delicious recipes (for the entire family) which, in the post-Christmas fug, I feel makes them truly appealing.

All these recipes could be easily followed using a chicken, or a turkey, and can be adapted depending on what you’ve got left-over in your cupboard. It kind of spoils the idea if you need to go out and buy even more ingredients, so all the vegetables I used are left-overs.

There was so much of the bird left over that I managed to make three separate dishes, each one large enough to feed up to 6 people.  After eating some, I have now portioned them off and put them in the freezer.

I’m sure you have your own methods and recipes, so remember to share them with me.

Recipes with left-over cockerel (much like a chicken of course … but so much bigger.)

1. Stock

3/4 pints cold water

left-over vegetables: celery, carrot, leek

1 onion

sea salt and black pepper

(some dried herbs if you like, or fresh thyme if you have it)

chicken / cockerel / turkey carcass and bones. Remember to remove all the meat from the bones first, and keep aside.

Throw everything all together in one large pot, bring to the boil, and then simmer gently, with lid almost on, for 2 hours. Then strain the stock and use it for risotto or .. soup.

2. Soup

Whenever I roast a chicken I make a stock from the carcass and then generally make this soup. You can use almost any vegetables you want, and any scraps of left-over meat will just add to its flavour.

2 litres stock

150g carrots (peeled and diced)

150g parsnips (peeled, core removed, and diced)

1/2 green cabbage (finely shredded)

Pieces of left-over meat, roughly chopped.

sea salt and black pepper

Bring the stock to the boil, then gentle simmer. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook on gentle simmer for 5 mins. Add the cabbage, cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chicken (or cockerel), simmer for another minute, then season and serve.

3. Risotto

Again, a recipe that’s so simple, so tasty, and can utilise almost any vegetable that you throw at it.

2 pints stock (chicken, fish or vegetable)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 onions (finely chopped)

2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

celery (finely chopped)

400g risotto rice

peas (frozen is fine; half a bag or however many you like in your risotto)

2 glasses of wine

sea salt and black pepper

70g butter

115g parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Heat the stock. In a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the onions and garlic and celery and fry slowly for 4 mins. When vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat. The rice will begin to fry, so keep stirring. After 1 minute, add the wine and keep stirring. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladles of stock (just under a third of the stock), and a pinch of salt. Turn the heat down a bit so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Once the stock has absorbed, then add the next load of stock, stirring slowly, almost massaging the the starch from the rice. Keep adding more stock only once each load has absorbed. 15-20 mins. Carry on adding stock until rice is soft but with a slight bite. Maybe add more salt. I sometimes fry up some mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and separately some leeks in butter, whilst the rice is cooking. In this way I can feel happy that my children are getting lots of vegetables – minus the whinging. (It’s a win win scenario.)

Remove from heat, add the peas (and mushrooms and leeks if you’re using them), the chicken, and the butter and parmesan. Stir gently. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 3 minutes. This is when the risotto becomes creamy.

 

I still had some other leftover vegetables hanging out in my cupboard (looking at me accusingly) including a red cabbage, some red onions and garlic and a swede. So, I separately cooked the red cabbage with some left-over red wine, and have already put some in the freezer – as it freezes well, and only gets better with time. I steamed the swede, then mashed it with olive oil, butter, salt and pepper. The red onions and garlic went together in the oven for an hour’s roasting with some olive oil, herbs, and salt and pepper.

My family has feasted again this evening, and now I’m sitting down writing about it.

It’s all good quality organic produce that has now been either eaten, stored in the fridge or stashed in the freezer for future dinners. None has been wasted.

Instead of left-overs I’m left with a warm sense of satisfaction that leaves me neither bloated nor sickened by the amount of food that has passed through my door this week. And that’s a nice feeling.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

161. Follow my recipes or just use your own good cooking sense to ensure no food is thrown away this Christmas.

162. Or if you hate cooking, or just don’t want to cook, then how about giving your left-over vegetables to those who need it. Find out about your local Food Bank

 

 

 

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Urgent: A new threat to the Amazon

Eucaliptus tree plantations on land cleared from the Amazon rainforest in Ulianopolis Municipality, Para State, Brazil, Aug. 12, 2008.

I know. This is the second action in less than two days that I’ve added my voice to. But some things are worth banging on about, until your head hurts. And I can’t think of many issues more pressing than protecting the Arctic (yesterday’s letter) and the Amazon rainforest.

In fact, I’ve just been watching BBC’s ‘Frozen Planet‘ (which I highly recommend) and David Attenborough reminded me what’s at stake in protecting our wildernesses by reciting the lyrics from Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World’:

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself what a wonderful world.

Whilst being reminded of the fragility of our planet it’s always worth recalling its beauty.

And if signing a petition or writing a letter can help prevent more of the Amazon rainforest turning into tree plantations — as we see in the above (very depressing) photo -then I’ll sign whatever it takes.

The Amazon rainforest–one of the world’s most treasured natural areas–is facing critical new challenges to combating its greatest threat: deforestation.

Once a vibrant and diverse ecosystem, the Amazon rainforest is being developed into a monoculture of farmed crops. An increase in exports of soya to China, cotton and paper fibres throughout the Americas and beef to Europe are creating a new landscape for the Amazon.

Why do we need to sign a petition?

Well, land owners are pressing for the law in Brazil to be changed so they can use additional forest land for cattle ranching and other types of agriculture. In addition to this, reforestation of the areas that have been previously cleared by illegal loggers will not be required.

This threatens Brazil’s wildlife and the livelihoods of the millions of people who rely on the Amazon rainforest for food and shelter. The impact of this would be felt all over the world, as a significant amount of CO2 could be released.

I think that sounds pretty urgent.

On December 6, the Brazilian Senate voted to make changes to the country’s forest law that would devastate the rainforest. Next, the bill goes to the Brazilian House, and then the fate of the Amazon lies with President Dilma Rousseff. She’s expected to make a decision in the next fortnight on whether or not to support the changes.

I’ve just signed the WWF’s petition urging Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to veto the proposed changes to the forest law and protect the Amazon from deforestation.

I support the WWF and think they’re a great organisation that does very valuable work in conservation and wildlife protection. I only share actions on my blog that come from a reputable source. I do my research so you don’t have to.

So, I’m interested: if you don’t fancy signing this petition, let me know why.  Share your reasons so I can find out what actions you would be happy to do.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

160. Sign the petition today. Add your voice to the 1.5 million people in Brazil who have already signed petitions to veto the proposed changes. 

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Good news! Cairn Energy has stopped its Arctic drilling

 

Greenpeace activists climbing the Arctic-bound oil rig earlier this year

Cairn Energy has stopped its Arctic oil exploration campaign.

Hallelujah.

After spending more than a billion dollars and risking ecological disaster in the biggest oil exploration campaign ever in the Arctic, Cairn has found no commercially extractable oil at all, putting its entire Arctic drilling project in doubt.

The enormous costs (and the company’s plummeting share price) mean that there’ll be no further exploratory drilling off Greenland for the foreseeable future.

This is of course good news. But other oil companies — including Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Statoil — all hold licenses to drill in a pristine area off the north-east coast of Greenland. Elsewhere in the Arctic, Shell plans to start drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas of Alaska next year, and Gazprom in the Pechora Sea north of Siberia.

I wrote about the brave and bold antics of Greenpeace activists earlier this year when they climbed the Arctic-bound oil rig (see above photo — I mean, would you do that?) to try and protect the Arctic from companies such as Cairn and governments who want to carve it up for oil.

At the moment the UK is attempting to dilute new European proposals which would ensure that oil companies, like Cairn Energy, have to meet tough new standards when they operate in fragile areas like the Arctic. Rather than blocking EU laws that would help protect the frozen North, the UK should be doing all it can to preserve one of the world’s most important natural environments.

I’ve just sent an email to David Cameron (via the Greenpeace website) to ask how he’s going to use his influence to protect the Arctic.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

158.  Go to Greenpeace and ask David Cameron exactly what he intends to do to save the Arctic. It’s a very simple action but adding your voice guarantees that you are acting and not just sitting back and waiting for others to do it for you.

159. To remind yourself of what’s at risk, and what’s worth protecting, watch the BBC’s ‘Frozen Planet’ (narrated by David Attenborough) — last episode tomorrow night.


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Is this the most important book of our time?

 

In the face of more global dithering at the UN Summit in Durban over the most critical issue of our time (namely our survival), I’ve retreated into the safety of a good book –The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann.

And not only is it a good book that lulls me into a peaceful state of mind with soothing words of wisdom. But it’s undoubtedly for me the most important book I’ve read all year.

Thom Hartmann shows us not only how a reduction in our consumption lies at the heart of helping our planet, but also, most critically, how to achieve this. This book is about where the world is going and what we can do about it.

It’s a call to action – so we can achieve personal enrichment, peace of mind, spiritual awakening and restoration of our planet.

Thom Hartmann writes:

“Nothing but changing our way of seeing and understanding the world can produce real, meaningful and lasting change … and that change in perspective will naturally lead us to begin to control our populations, save our forests, re-create community, and reduce our wasteful consumption.”

He proposes solutions that represent a view that has sustained and nurtured humanity for hundreds of thousands of years. The indigenous tribes of each continent did not overpopulate or destroy their world. Nor did they lead desperate lives. They lived a sustainable life.  And many of them still do. They have lessons to teach us. But we are too busy killing them, exterminating their forests, polluting their water and destroying their cultures to listen.

As he says: “When enough people change the way they view things, solutions become evident, often in ways we couldn’t even imagine. We have destroyed much of the world because of our culture; we can save much of it by changing our culture.”

Will we wake up in time?

If enough people read this book now then I believe we may just do it.

(What’s the most important book you’ve read recently? Please leave a comment and share your recommendations..)

WHAT YOU CAN DO

157. Read The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann

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A green future? It’s in our hands.

Girl with rock.

Whoops-a-daisy. There goes another government pre-election promise.

And so we sit back and hear the shameful words of a British government put in power on the promise to be the greenest ever elected. And now they’re on a course set to being the most environmentally destructive in recent history.

And on our watch.

Not only is George Osbourne proposing tax subsidies for our most polluting industries, but is scraping plans to increase fuel duty and reducing subsidies for solar panels. This will only increase our reliance on fossil fuels, and shatter any illusion we may have had on the UK leading the world in the alternative energy industry. The UK had a chance to develop wave, tide and solar energy projects and wean ourselves off oil and gas, which we have to import at increasing costs to our wallet and to our planet.

This is our time, our generation. We have to live with this stunning disregard for the future of humanity and of our planet. And will have to live with the consequences of this bizarre head in the sand mentality if we don’t hurry up and wake up.

George Osbourne should have trouble sleeping at night. But actually he has yet to wake up. Maybe there’s no hope for him. But there should be hope for our planet, despite him and his myopic, earth shattering tendencies.

Not only is the UK missing a golden opportunity to become a leader in a developing industry, but it’s stepping back from becoming a wise leader on an ever-increasingly shameful world stage.  Right now, the US is trying to kill the UN’s climate treaty in Durban, and is bullying smaller countries to join it.

Strange things are happening every day — and they’re happening so often we’ve normalised them and we no longer even notice: another earthquake in Turkey that kills hundreds, more floods in Brazil that displace thousands, another famine and more war in another region of Africa .. that kills millions.

And oh. Whoops-a-daisy. There goes another forest.

Our governments would do well to remember that climate change is threatening not only other people, but us all. We’re all on this space ship called Earth, together.

Would you like to wake up to a green future where we do notice extreme events as being a sign of climate-induced catastrophe? I know I do. I can barely sleep for want of a better world, filled with wise leaders with wise ideas.

So ..

WHAT YOU CAN DO

157. Sign up to the Avaaz.org online petitiondo it now. We have 5 days left in Durban to make a difference.

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An Eco Build: How to reclaim what’s already yours and waste nothing

Our builder has discovered a huge stash of beautiful terracotta floor tiles laying beneath the rubble of the ruined cottage. These would have been part of the original farmhouse floor. Some are broken, but many are in fine condition, which is of course pretty exciting. They just need a good clean.  We’ve also managed to supplement this treasure trove with a load of similar looking antique terracotta tiles found in our local salvage yard — at 1 euro per tile.

Terracotta is a red clay based material that has been used throughout history for sculptures and pottery, as well as bricks and roof and floor tiles. Often old terracotta tiles can look very tired and worn with patches of white (salt) on the surface following years of foot traffic — as you can see in the photo.

To restore all these tiles we firstly need to strip back the old finish of polish and layers of old floor sealant, followed by a thorough deep clean and stain removal to remove all the dirt and residue. This is a job which will be carried out by me – no, not really. It’s a job that definitely needs the professional touch, for the simple reason that it’s a pretty huge task. Even though it’s a very small house, we still need a couple of thousand tiles which all need to be cleaned. Then the terracotta tiles need to be scrubbed and dried until they are beautifully clean and back to their natural state.

As these tiles are porous I’ve discovered that we’ll then need to allow the floor to completely dry before applying a high quality sealer. Because unprotected terracotta floors pick up dirt and stains very easily, it’s important to seal them. I’d like our floor to breathe and I’d of course prefer to use non-toxic materials. I know there are water-based sealants out there; I just don’t know yet what our tiler is accustomed to using. This is a conversation I need to have with him pretty soon. However, I know it’s not urgent as we’ve yet to finish the window frames, and until the windows are in, and the house is weather proof, we can’t lay down the tiles.

Weeks ago our builder also found many original terracotta roof tiles laying abandoned in the rubble, as well as floor tiles laying scattered around the land.  There is of course nothing better than renovating a house with original material. It provides me with some satisfaction and a sense of relief that we’re not simply trucking in loads of new materials, but we are re-using what’s already there and has been lying around for many years.

It took a bit of explaining to our builder and much insistence from me as to why I would want to keep the original floor and roof tiles. An obvious wish for me, but I’ve learnt that it’s not the usual practice in this region. I’ve discovered that the local way is to renovate a house like our little farmhouse using new modern materials. And when someone, on the rare occasion, does have an interest in a traditional style, they tend to shun the antique materials and opt for those that have the appearance of being antique. Our builder is accustomed to installing new terracotta tiles that have been made to look old, so I experienced a few frustrating conversations where our cultural differences raised their slightly self-righteous questions.

My main question was simply and incredulously: “Why would I want a fake when I can have the real thing?

My builder’s a good man. I wouldn’t want to paint an unfair picture of a sour and stubborn man, because that wouldn’t be representative of him at all.  I feel fortunate to have found someone who is not only a true professional and expert in his field, but he’s also a very reasonable man who is happy to work in a non-traditional way – if that’s what I want.  Except of course, I do want him to work in the traditional way: but only the traditional way that respects traditional building practices and the old materials, not the ‘traditional’ way that responds only to contemporary tastes.

What I’ve learnt is that there are cultural differences and different tastes that I need to be aware of throughout this renovation project.  And I would guess that what my builder has learnt is not to throw anything away!

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How many ways are there to say ‘it’s time for change’?

Check out this slideshow from Grist.org to find out just how many there are.  The Occupy protesters in New York City over the past few months have found a seemingly endless variety.

As Grist.org says: “This is a movement that refuses to be boxed in and it doesn’t look like it’s going away soon.”

 Amen to that.

(How would you say it? What would be on your banner?)

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