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Easter holidays (Apr07)

Juggling Easter holidays with work commitments is a lot easier with an au pair! Alex is Australian and only with me until mid June but she’s wonderful.

Had lunch last week with Arthur Llewellyn (www.hfhmanagement.co.uk), who worked with Green Spirit fuels until December last year, promoting bio-ethanol. He introduced me to a nearby pub, the Mandeville Arms in Hardington Mandeville, which has recently changed hands. The food was excellent, although we were the only customers so word hasn’t yet got round.

Last year Arthur was very helpful in giving me information on bioethanol for The New Green Consumer Guide. However, he didn’t manage to convince me of its eco virtues – I have devoted a couple of pages of the book explaining why the new enthusiasm for bioethanol and biodiesel could be disastrous for the planet. But Arthur is now interested in biogas or bio methane, which I think has enormous untapped potential. Food waste from supermarkets, factories and households should be collected and converted to useable fuel for cars, electricity and heating. To date this is happening on a minute scale.

A quick visit to Rosie Boycott, who rents a house nearby. She wanted to talk to me about energy efficient lightbulbs, which will be the subject of one of her first regular environmental columns in the Daily Mail. When we’d finished our discussions I didn’t need much persuasion to have a couple of games of squabble (which is like a fast version of scrabble). Rosie had a journalist friend staying who was almost professional – she won both times!

Large family gathering for Easter lunch at my brother’s house. His environmental credentials are elevated by having LED lights in his kitchen that only use 2 watts of electricity. They’re the next generation of energy efficient lighting – still expensive but the price is coming down fast and light quality improving. He’s also got solar tubes on his roof for hot water – he installed them himself for less than £1000. On Easter day they apparently reached their maximum temperature because it was so sunny outside.

The following day I took the children to stay with friends just outside Bristol, who have two boys of similar age to mine. Amanda Mitchison helped me enormously with first round editing of The New Green Consumer Guide – she is an experienced journalist and writer, currently writing a children’s book. Her husband Jeremy Bristow produced Climate Chaos, the BBC documentary on climate change, with David Attenborough that came out last year.

Amanda managed to get me digging in the vegetable garden. It made me keen to get planting. Love having lots of delicious home grown produce but finding it difficult to get time to prepare the ground and sew the seed. My next door farmer has kindly offered his rotavator, which I think I’ll accept…

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