My first 5k race

Damien Clarkson

Last night I took part in my first ever timed 5k race. It was as part of the GoodGym Race Series, which combined 45 mins of volunteering helping out a fantastic new social enterprise called Makeversity who are going to be offering affordable working spaces to people who ‘make things’, both digital and physical things with the hope of matching the talents within their building with teaching programmes for young people.

The 5k race was my first target on my recovery from injury. In fact I have pretty much exclusively been running 5k(ish) 3/4 times a week since the first week of August. The race took place in the evening and started on the Embankment outside Somerset House and the route would see us run along the embankment over Westminster bridge then down to Lambeth bridge before running back to Somerset House.

I decided to run in the sub 24 min group, my practice runs had been around 24 to 25 mins. But I thought despite constant dodging the tourists and steps we had to walk and down I could make it under 24 mins, because after all it was a race and I have always enjoyed competition.

I have to say I really enjoyed the race, I just went at my steady running pace until what I thought was a mile from the finish (it turns out it was 0.7 miles) then I decided to run hard to the finish. I came through at a respectable 23.35 which given the conditions, steps, tourists etc was respectable. It placed me 3rd overall which I was really happy with.  A youth spent playing cricket and football meant I was used to competing on a regular basis and it is something I think I have missed.

I have written a blog for GoodGym about my injury and my recovery was published, I think anyone who has ever had an injury will take something from reading it.

I would also recommend reading this blog by Nikki who has had a similar experience with injury and her recovery.

So, if anyone wants to do a park run or a 5k in the near future let me know. Running feels really exciting to me at the moment.


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Life

Well life has been busy and we have had an actual British Summer, these factors combined has led to me not blogging for far too long. However the past month has been packed full of some amazing experiences, life changes, struggles and exciting challenges. But have no fear, I am back on the blogging bandwagon🙂 undoubtedly this will probably mean a flurry of blogs followed by my usual month of silence. But I promise I will try to be more consistent and anyway it is raining now.

At the end of June, I took my first holiday in 2 years and went to Berlin. I stayed in the district of Kreuzberg at a great backpackers for people under 40 called Jetpack Alternative.

On the day I arrived in Berlin the weather was 35 degrees and immediately I settled into the hostel and had a night out with a bunch of other backpackers. Althrough throughout the break I spent most of my time hanging out with Diana, who I met through CouchSurfing. She and her friends made me feel incredibly welcome and we checked out lots of bands, ate great vegan food and generally just had a great time relaxing.

Me and Diana

I was struck by how many people were vegan in Berlin, they have a huge vegan supermarket in Friedrichshain although it was deemed to be stupidly over priced by my new friends. Berlin really felt like a city I could see myself living in one day, I think Berlin has a culture which makes it easy to be an artist. Because of state support for education, and affordable housing and strong laws protecting tenants mean that creative young people can live in the most amazing accommodation for prices Londoners would only dream of.

So, on my return from Berlin, I decided I would go vegan, this is something I have been thinking of doing for quite awhile. I was already vegetarian and had been phasing out dairy for awhile.  Going vegan has been surprisingly easy, the only times it has been difficult has been when out of London and eating out. This has resulted in a few items being sent back.

Vegan times

As a result of going vegan, I feel full of energy and happy about how I am reducing my carbon footprint and not participating in a system which is cruel to animals. I have also read ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek’s new book ‘Eat and Run’, he believes a vegan diet is one of the key components which turned him into a champion. So vegan ultramarathon greatness here I come🙂. Ok well perhaps I will crawl round a marathon next year before I turn 30.

Speaking of running, I have been receiving physio from Helen at Fix, which is a new sports physio practice near me in Hackney. I have learnt so much about how I run, what I need to change and my overall body and how it behaves. I have discovered that  I have been shielding the left hand side of my body for the last 8 years. This has led to me regularly getting injured as a result of putting too much pressure through my right hand side. My lazy left side is now shaping up and I am redeveloping my running to run in an increasingly front foot running style better known as ‘barefoot running’. So far the early signs are good, I haven’t had any side affects and after 3 months of injury I can run for 20 mins of a 30 min (10 mins rest for my ankle).

I have just recently returned from 4 days in Cambridge with some of my wonderful friends. My friend Tamsin took us to Trinity College,  at Cambridge University where I saw one of only 4 remaining copies of Shakespeare’s first folio and went punting. which turns out is loads of fun if not slightly hard work.

Punting in Cambridge

Tamsin and me at Trinity

We did plenty of cycling, walking and I led the cooking for 12 people, which was fun but exhausting. We did lots of discussing our future plans and the world we live in. I feel really blessed to know these amazing people who care so much about everything happening around them. All in all, beautiful people and beautiful times.

Walking with friends
So that was kinda the last month; I also saw ‘The Breeders’ and ‘Dinosaur Pile Up’, play which were amazing, I am trying to see more gigs, so if people fancy checking out bands let me know. I have tickets for Drenge in September, hopefully I won’t bump into Ed Miliband there after Tom Watson’s resignation letter suggestion.

Dinosaur Pileup

Next month I turn 29 (I can’t believe it) and the social enterprise ‘CookHoods’ I am trying to set up with my friend Bex is gathering momentum. I will update everyone on this soon but if you like good homemade food and supporting local communities, I think you will love it.

Until the next time. Big Love, Damien xx

Food Not Fuel

Halima

Yesterday I was invited along to the Action Aid blogger meetup to hear about their work as part of the IF campaign coalition. Having previously done a bit of work for an international development charity working in Africa, I was acutely aware about the issue of hunger. And being a climate change campaigner I have spent a lot of time reading about how climate change will worsen the global food crisis and the poorest people will suffer first, so I went along keen to learn more about the issue.

For those who don’t know already, Enough Food IF is a campaign in the style of ‘Make Poverty History’ and is asking the G8 (the worlds most wealthy countries) to implement a series of measures to help tackle world hunger. This year David Cameron is president of the G8 and therefore has the opportunity to drive real change if he so wishes.

The campaign has set out of big IF’s for world leaders to tackle:

Throughout the evening we heard from a number of speakers including the actress and cook Fay Ripley, Joy an inspirational young Action Aid campaigner from Kenya. And Rachel Beer, who I have known for several years and is a thought leader in charity fundraising and digital.

Fay spoke passionately about the extravagant culture of present giving at children’s parties and how she and her 6 year old decided to ask that parents just donated into a bucket and then with that money through Action Aid they sponsored children and saw what a wonderful difference that money made.

I asked Fay about food waste at the parties and she confirmed that it is terrible and that most parents in her North London circle care very little for it. Being a keen cook Fay assured me that isn’t the case with her parties but it was disheartening to hear that there was such blatant waste of good food. This at time when in the UK food banks are opening at the rate of 3 per week. Further afield the situation is much worse as Joy was about to tell us.

Joy is a 29 year old campaigner from Kenya, she spoke with such raw passion and gave us her first hand account of what it was like growing up when their was literally not enough food to go around. She spoke about how her bigger brothers would eat all of the food and how in her family if someone hesitated with their food another family member would take the food of their plate. She also talked about how people would “bump” round and if your family had food, you would share it with them, I liked that people were willing to share the very little they had with their neighbour.

Joy

She then went on to talk about Biofuels, one of the key focuses of the IF campaign and how this has impacted upon communities in Kenya. But first a little bit of background about biofuels:

  • Around 10 years ago biofuels were being touted as a renewable energy source.
  • Biofuels harvest crops which could be used to feed people, once these lands have been used for biofuels, it can take as long as 25 years to be able to grow food on this land again
  • Big oil companies like BP and Shell have invested heavily in Biofuels and lobbied governments to include biofuels as part of the renewable energy mix.
  • There is now scientific consensus that biofuels don’t reduce carbon emissions, in-fact they actually release higher carbon emissions than the fossil fuels they were created to replace.
  • The EU instated a target of having 5% of transport fuels come from Biofuels by 2010, this has helped drive the industry and land grabs.
  • In 2009, the oil company Shell stopped investing in wind and solar power choosing Biofuels as its “renewable” energy investment because it has the potential to generate profits.
  • BP are another big oil company who have invested heavily in biofuels, they are determined to see it succeed.

So in short biofuels a bit of a problem, big oil have invested in developing it and 10 years of intense lobbying has led to laws supporting its use. However in 2011, 10 of the world’s most powerful organisations, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank all recommended that G20 governments should  scrap biofuel policies.

Back to Joy, she told us about the extent of the hunger crisis in Kenya, currently 11 million people are going hungry everyday, this doesn’t include people who are partially hungry i.e. they may have one meal a day. She told us about biofuels and how recently a french company displaced 20,000 people through a land grab in order to start producing biofuels. If these people are offered jobs at the plants they are lowest possible roles, paying very poor wages.

Biofuels Infographic

The issue of land grabs is a frightening reality for the whole of Africa not just to fuel biofuels production but to feed the populations of the gulf region and China. Large corporations and governments have been buying up vast regions of land. The people in these areas are not consulted, compensated, simply displaced.

You maybe aware that recently we passed 400ppm of carbon in the atmosphere. Putting it very simply this is seriously bad news in the bid to tackle world hunger. Dr James Hansen one of the leading climate scientists said this in 2008: “If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted … CO2 will need to be reduced … to at most 350ppm.”

The continued use of biofuels will see an increase in the carbon emitted into the atmosphere leading to an increase in extreme weather patterns. Floods, droughts, hurricanes will become more common and in arid regions of the world already struggling with poverty. The tougher climate will make water more scarce and farming in difficult conditions even more challenging. It is predicted in the next 50 years climate change will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and millions of climate refugees.

Last year extreme weather events caused £170 billion in damages, this isn’t taken to into account the emotional trauma and death these ever increasing weather events caused.

Tackling world hunger isn’t easy, even if biofuels are scrapped and the IF campaigns demands are met there will be an unbelievable amount of work to do. But this is a good starting point, and as a country we shouldn’t be supporting an industry which has been found to be bad for the environment, displaces innocent and pulls communities into starvation. With the world population due to expand to 9 billion in by 2050, we need to use land for food no fuel, we need to invest in renewable energy sources and we need to eat less meat to reduce carbon emissions and ensure their is more food to go around.

For too long these corporations, BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil et al, have taken advantage of the people with no voice. They have taken their land, polluted their environment and made huge profits whilst in places like in Kenya 11 million people can will starve everyday. They should feel ashamed. And if the G8 don’t stop the use of biofuels they will be responsible for the continued misery of untold millions.

I will leave you with the words of Joy who I felt was channeling some of the energy of the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davision, 100 years to the day that she stepped in front of the Kings horse to demand votes for women.

Joy was pretty fierce through out and said: “Lets join hands and fight together for the hungry people”.  Well I couldn’t agree more, please share this blog and spread the word about the IF campaign. Or join Action Aid and other NGO’s in Hyde Park this Saturday for an IF campaign rally.

The courage of Emily Wilding Davison

Emily Wilding Davison

Just over 3 years ago, David Cameron and Nick Clegg stood outside Downing Street smugly smiling in the May sunshine promising us a “new kind of politics”. Looking back it seems laughable that anyone even half contemplated this working given who we were hearing it from.

Today Nick Clegg, constantly looks as if someone has hollowed out his insides and force fed them to him, whilst David Cameron looks more ridiculously red every time he speaks. To be honest if I had to lie that much I would go pretty red as well.

Today, MP’s vote on the Energy Bill, an amendment has been re-introduced to the bill calling for the UK to decarbonisation our energy sector but 2030. Makes sense right?. We burn less fossil fuels, bring down our carbon emissions, reduce reliance of a finite resource, reduce bills and invest in green renewable technology one of the UK’s only growth sectors.

Well… Not in George Osborne and the Treasury’s eyes, our Georgie boy is addicted to fossil fuels and obsessed with fracking for shale gas and coal bed methane. It is no secret that 51% of Tory party funding comes from financial institutions in the city whose hedge funds are tied up in funds linked to the fossil fuel industry. The decision to delay a decarbonisation target until 2016 (after the election) is purely political and shows blatant cowardice from the Lib Dem’s and the Tories.

It is business as usual politics and it sucks…

The vote on the decarbonisation target is expected to be tight and the parliamentarians of 2013 would do well to remember an inspirational women in the Suffragette Emily Wilding Davison, who threw herself in front of the Kings horse on an race day 100 years ago today.

There is much conjecture about whether Emily Wilding Davison meant to die when she stepped in front of the Kings horse on that fateful race day. What is beyond doubt is that Ms Davison was ready for death it that should be her destiny. Her bravery and dedication in the fight for suffrage should be reflected upon by those MP’s wondering whether to rebel against the government and back the amendment.

Ms Davison died so that we all can participate in a democracy however in-perfect it may still be. Today when politicians go to place their vote they should ask themselves. What would Emily Wilding Davison said? Would she have voted for what to right or what was politically convenient?

I think they will know the answer…

GoodGym and super healthy

Running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2010

For past month or so I have been slowly embarking on a health kick. Historically I have always been a pretty fit person, my childhood was filled with back to back games of football, cricket, tennis. Then in my late teens/ early twenties I developed a pretty full on gym habit. All of which came to a sudden end when I went travelling in January 2008 and realised I didn’t miss spending half my life in the gym.

Then like most people when they move to London I invariably became busy making lots of new friends and enjoying this amazing city. Recognising that I hadn’t been doing any exercise I decided to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2010 and ended up stumbling around in a pretty slow 2.17 (I was injured). The aftermath of not quite enough pre training and some poor trainers which ripped my feet to shreds meant that I found it really hard to pick the running back up. There have been a few abortive attempts in the couple of years since but during this time I have increased my cycling and this has kept me in some sort of reasonable condition.

However as I approach my 29th birthday (August) I have started to feel like I need to look after myself a bit better. I have always found that when I exercise regularly I have increased energy levels, feel more confident and I have a better work productivity level. Probably as a result of participating in team games like football and cricket I have always found running on my own incredibly hard which leads to me cutting corners.

Since starting on my health kick I have been on a couple of runs with my friend Lauren and these have really helped. Lauren recently ran the Brighton marathon for a great charity called GoodGym which essentially is a running club with volunteering on a community project sandwiched in the middle. I went to my first GoodGym run on Tuesday, I was actually pretty nervous that I wouldn’t be able to run the 8km and that I would be slower than everyone else. I was really pleased to discover that I actually wasn’t that bad and the other running volunteers were lovely. Our volunteering task was to help shift pallets and scaffolding planks to a new community permaculture garden in Shoreditch, which being me I was thrilled to discover. Then before we knew it we were on the way back to our meeting point in London Fields.

I think GoodGym might be the social running solution for me, next week we’re running 10km (gulp) and if I am last in the group, I will have to swallow my pride and deal with it. But the great thing with GoodGym is that someone will always run with you. GoodGym currently operate in East London, Camden and Liverpool. If you’re looking to get fit and do good you should definitely check it out.

I have also been inspired by a number of my friends have recently ran the marathon or have been living healthy lives and look great as a result. A number of these people are vegan and  have lots of energy to achieve impressive fitness feats.  Vegan fitness inspirations include, Laura Scott, Milly Banana Anselmo- Oldfield, Cat Turner, James Proctor. Non vegan inspirations are totally Hannah McQuarrie and Juliet Chard, Natasha Lees, Lauren Garland, Ree Ree, Amy Cooper and Tom Mustill and Luke Chaput– ‘ Luke- my knees aren’t springy anymore mate’. P.S: If you don’t already follow each other you should start🙂

All of the people above are incredibly smart and motivating people to be around, I don’t think it is a coincidence that they all exercise regularly.

My getting fitter strategy will include:

  • Running more often and going to GoodGym when possible
  • Eating more vegan meals
  • No milk in coffee
  • Press-ups and sit-ups most days
  • Swimming
  • Getting a new bike for long cycle rides
  • More raw food

I am thinking that perhaps I will run a half marathon at the end of the summer. I did always say I wanted to do an marathon by the time I am 30 and the clock is ticking.

Did the left win the 20th century?

Another plane

Last week I received a complimentary 100th year anniversary copy of the New Statesman. I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the archived essay from John Maynard Keynes on the case for intervention and Will Self talking about his pessimistic outlook.  However the one feature which really caught my eye was politicians and political commentators discussing ‘Did the left win the 20th century?’

Having got over the shock of not being asked for my opinion directly by the New Statesman I decided I would quite like to write about this. I am quite unashamedly left wing in my politics, I believe in nationalised public services, government intervention in business, tax and spend fiscal policy and ending all fossil fuel subsidies and the need for a rapid transition to a clean energy system.

However I recognise that to tackle the biggest challenge our generation faces in my eyes ‘climate change’, we will need both sides the left and the right to work together to have any chance of seriously curbing our carbon emissions.

To date I would be correct in suggesting big business are standing in the way of tackling climate change at every turn. If capitalism is going to survive as the dominant politically ideology for the next 100 years, I believe it will have to evolve, retract, become a more local. We live on a planet with finite resources and a rapidly changing climate.

The businesses which help us becoming smarter and more efficient in the way we lead our daily lives, paying a fair wage to employees will be the ones which thrive. Those who continue to put profit before the wellbeing of their employers and those who currently buy their products will perish.

Did the left win the 20th century?

Oh, how I would love to answer ‘yes’ and say how in 2013 we live in a socialist paradise where everyone cycles and poverty in non existent. The truth is that as I type this I can hear the planes on route to City Airport and we stand on the verge of a triple dip recession. To boot we have a government who want to de-regulate and privatise and outsource everything, even through irresponsible unfettered capitalism was a root cause of the financial crisis. The neoliberal economics of Milton Friedman adopted by Thatcher then Blair and almost every western government since the 1970’s and has led to the current sad state of affairs, so it could be said the economic doctrine of the right sadly had more support at the end of the 20th century.

However the social ideals of the left certainly gained universal acceptance by the end of the 20th century. Things like for example an national health service, state pensions, acceptance of gay relationships, end to apathied, employment law, human rights act. These only came about because of the left.

So on reflection perhaps it was a score draw. What is clear the politics of the 20th century failed, the gap between the richest and the poorest grew wider. And although there were huge advancements in providing help for the most needy food banks are opening at a rate of 3 a week in the UK.

The next 10o years will need a different kind of people politics with ideas for change from business and government coming our communities not out of touch privileged politicians.

Regardless of who “wins” the 21st century political battle, lets hope it is the side which fights for social justice and wealth distribution and tackles climate change. That is the side I will be on.

Boston and the freedom to tweet

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

Photograph: David L Ryan/AP

I am going to be controversial in the wake of the tragic events at the Boston Marathon and talk about social network freedom. Whilst watching the events unfold on TV and social media, I was amazed at the sophistication of scammers trying to promote their cause or just gain followers by posting misleading information.

This was followed by lots of tweeters’ warning others of these scams and rightly shaming those trying to benefit from the immense suffering. It is only natural that when tragedy strikes many people will panic. In exactly the same way people can panic in dangerous real life situations.

Communicating through social media has for many people and I would probably include myself become a task as natural as talking to a friend in the pub. Social media enables real friendships and social bonds to form between people who have never met in real life. People really do have a sense of connection with people on the other side of the globe.

So, when something as awful as the Boston bombing happens, people will panic and the social media tools that provide for many people a sense of community and belonging can be taken advantage of by dishonest people. These fraudulent accounts will invariable be closed down and if fraud has been committed the police will get involved.

Fraudulent Tweet

Since the tragedy I have seen a few blogs telling people off for not showing common sense when tweeting. As anyone who has been a victim of fraud will tell you; they didn’t know what was happening to them at the time of the fraud. This is exactly the same with Twitter fraud; the people who retweeted the @_BostonMarathon account were innocent people trying to do good through social media in the belief their tweet would raise money for those tragically hurt.

Communications professionals often genuinely use mechanics like that one used by the @_BostonMarathon account to raise money for charity causes. I would hate to see people on social networks become so skeptical they were scared to click on a tweet because of fear of being berating by other community users.

I also believe charities have a role to play in offering sympathy to those effected by events such as those in Boston. Promoting your next fundraising event or asking for donations isn’t probably appropriate but genuine engagement and kindness always has a place in my eyes.  Even if a few people misused Twitter, overall it was used to inform people at the event and around the world of what was happening to people they were worried about and Google created this wonderful person finder for those worried about someone in Boston.

We live in crazy times, as a member of a non-violent, peaceful environmental action group we know the police monitor our social media communications. They email us often asking if we want to meet with them and discuss our protests that we organise on social media.

Teresa May, The Home Secretary speaking in parliament earlier this year made a Freudian slip saying; “ Police officer regularly use Twitter to access, sorry, I mean send messages”. The point being Twitter and other social media channels are already a heavily policed already by governments and law enforcing authorities.  Freedom to say what you want, click what you want, connect with who you want, is what I believe makes Twitter great.

Lets encourage more people use these tools to build connections, these relationships often lead to virtual and real life collaborations which benefit wider society.

Lets not make Twitter or other social networks elitist places ruled by strict rules where people are scared to join in.

The freedom to connect, create and click that button on whatever you want, is what makes it beautiful.

Further Reading:

For a full overview on social media at the Boston Marathon try reading @holmesdm blog: Boston marathon: Has social media coverage finally matured? 

For an alternative view to me on this issue read the very lovely @LondonKirsty blog: Why, when tragedy strikes, does common sense goes out the window?

This land was made for you and me

IMAG2127

Firstly I am not a fan of attacking others on the left, god knows there are enough right wing austerity nuts lining up to attack anyone who dares to dream of alternative ways living.

However after reading Suzanne Moore’s blog today in the Guardian ‘Food is now the ultimate class signifier’, I felt compelled to add my view. I agree that food stamps are damaging.  I have heard they can only be spent in approved government suppliers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s or other homogenous corporations, not your independent corner shop or local veg box scheme. And yes as a nation we’re becoming more interested in baking bread and cooking from scratch, especially in the aftermath of the horse food scandal people are starting to want accountability in the food chain and to develop a better understanding of where our food comes from.

However what is very clear is that with every passing year we are stuck with this government the gap between the rich and the poor becomes wider. And Suzanne is right food probably is the ultimate class signifier. I know this as I am sitting in a Hackney café drinking my £3.50 pear, apple, ginger, lemon fruit juice. No joke! And I am not kidding myself I know places like this are not the solution for people struggling to feed their family with healthy tasty food.

This government continues to strip away choice in almost all aspects of life and I can see why people struggling and feel like they have no food choice. You don’t see government funded adverts telling people to support local retailers or to head to a website which will direct you to your nearest co-operative food growing scheme. Instead we’re fed a diet of advertising that tells us to rush to our nearest Tesco’s and shove Pringles down our neck. ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’.

In her article Suzanne points out that choice and eating seasonally costs. Sorry Suzanne but this is what the government want you say, they want us to think we have no choice and keep us at the mercy of big business, giving them our money in exchange for packaged junk.

Visibility costs and for businesses to gain that invariably they have to charge a certain price for their produce especially in London. This food visibility and access is the problem. I am lucky to live in Hackney and have access to lots of locally grown vegetables from veg schemes. For a veg box of £10 I can feed myself for 5 days. Yes I have to be a bit creative and yes sometimes I have to eat cabbage but it doesn’t break the bank.

If you’re unable to afford this some schemes offer free food in return for volunteering with the growing. Not only does this give people a hobby and new skills, it is also a great way to meet new friends and reconnect people with the food they eat.

Now for the big elephant in the room MEAT! I just searched the cheapest chicken fillets Tesco offer and they come up at £3.79. No wonder people can’t afford to eat if they are paying nearly £4.00 for the cheapest genetically modified product. Once you start adding Tesco’s packaging saturated vegetables and a sauce of some kind you’re staring at £10.00 just for dinner.

As Food Banks continue to open at an alarming rate we need to address food poverty in the UK. Food stamps are definitely not the solution they limit choice and must surely create a feeling of low morale in those who receive them.

What we need are for the government to really support the local food growing solutions that are happening all across the country.  Instead of sending the unemployed off to Pound land for a spell of slave labour, why not help train a new army of chefs that specialise in seasonal food? Or reclaim land and create community food growing co-ops? After all we live on a planet with finite resources, the solutions exist but the government just don’t want the majority to look in the right place.

Eating local food from scratch has been giving the marketing treatment and is viewed by many as something for the elite. But the actually this couldn’t be further from the truth, our great grandparents would be horrified to think that we are so deprived of basic food skills. I dream of everyone getting back to growing our own food, making bread, making chutneys and preserving food. These are skills passed on from generation to generation they don’t belong to Nigella or any of the celebrity chefs they belong to us all.

These are a few projects that give me hope for the future of food and more broadly the planet.

The Secret Seed Society) Teaching young children about food growing through story telling.

The New Dawn Traders) Inspiring a new generation of sail cargo ships to wean our shipping industry off fossil fuels

Foodcycle) Turning food waste into delicious affordable meals and creating volunteering and retraining opportunities for people in the community.

Growing Communities) A Hackney based local affordable food growing co-op

Made in Hackney) Workshops teaching Londoners a sustainable food future

Get Growing) Working with children and adults teaching them how to grow food using permaculture design and organic methods.

NHS please be a bit better next time.

I need to blow off steam and I am sorry blog with my housemates away I am going to take it out on you.

So today, I visited the hospital with my Nan who is very dear to me. We were seeing a neurology specialist about a rare brain tumour  called a Cavernous Angioma which we had been vaguely told she has.

As we sat down to see the neurology specialist and very quickly we were told that Queen Elizabeth Hospital had lost her MRI and CT scan which originally alerted medical staff to the tumour. So this means my frail Nan may have to come from her care home in Dartford to Holborn in London to have another scan.

My Nan as we suspected previously and had pretty much confirmed to us today has some form of dementia. Now this is where things get really frustrating. Since losing the ability to look after herself and spending a spell in hospital last year, I have been constantly trying to get her diagnosed with dementia by the local memory clinic in Dartford at Darent Valley. But they refuse to see her citing her Cavernous Angioma and saying is causing her hallunciations and confusion.

The neurology surgeon today was able to tell us that unless the tumour is huge, it would be incredibly rare for it alone to cause the confusion. And that in all likeliness dementia is the key factor contributing her illness.

When I was pressing the Doctor to ensure she can now finally see the dementia specialist and get the therapy and medication she needs. He said he can’t necessarily make that happen as different trusts have different approaches to this. I asked him to include this suggestion in his letter which seemed like the only thing I could do.

I just feel so frustrated all we want is clear communication and diagnosis about her conditions. But 8 months later we still haven’t got there.

I feel sorry for my Nan she is a kind wonderful person and although she doesn’t say the same things she used to I still love her very much and she deserves respect and the best care the NHS can provide.

I still believe the NHS is an amazing institution full of hard working talented people. But I feel like because my Nan is in a care home and doesn’t fall into a pre defined box the health service isn’t doing enough for her.

Sorry blog and the NHS I do still love you and respect the work you do. But can you please just try and be a little less rubbish next time we meet.