Saturday, 25 July 2009

and the carnival swayed in the sun...

It is not until you are actively involved in an outdoor event that you really take notice of what our weather system has up it's varied sleeves.

We all know the weather has been described as 'changeable' over the past week or so, and therefore it was with distinct trepidation that I looked out of the window on a sunday morning a little while ago (at 5.45am) to see if the sun was out.

It wasn't, and my heart sank.

Why? This particular sunday was the Brighton Carnival.

A day of whistle blowing, massive costumes, rum and fresh coconuts was planned to be a day basking in the seaside sunshine, and instead it looked as though it was going to be washed into the gutter with the remnants of the saturday night revellers.

But, as I believe that everything comes right in the end, I trundled up to the workshop where I had been making green bunting until 1am the same morning to finish off the 33m I had set to achieve. I also made a green union jack to add to our stand (and on that front, look here for the most ridiculous and infuriating story I have heard in a while).

After an hour of bunting making in the grey halflight cast inside by the drizzle, I looked up to see a single shaft of light piercing through the window. All was to be well...

The day ended up being glorious, if not a little breezy (which we Brightonians are very used to - the sea gale we call a 'small tidal breeze').

We had booked a stand on the Madeira Drive strip in the eco festival section - The Green Wave Festival, and we had wonderful neighbours, including Herbal Haven, The Eco Garage and Nicola Thompson Architects.

Our stand was showcasing our little eco teardrop trailer, The Green Bean on it's official launch in the sun, and was a picture of green and eco loveliness on the beach, bedecked with my bunting.

We had a massive amount of interest in the Green Bean and were rushed off our feet from around 12 midday until we closed up shop at about 8pm, collapsing back at home too tired to eat.

The day was wonderful - busy, sunny, with fantastic live music, brilliant costumes and the eclectic mix of characters that fill our brilliant city. If you did not come this year, save the date for next year - you will have a ball...

PS - the green bean now has it's very own website - AND blog - campfire stories! where we will be posting our adventures, tours, trips and tips, recipes and hidden UK gems...come with us as we reclaim the Great British Holiday, the eco way!

Friday, 17 July 2009

eco design - all hair shirts and sandals...?

we live in a world of labels, perceptions and stereotypes. comedy sketches are written on them, arguments are fought on them and we are all subject to them in one way or another, in some point in our lives. some you can let wash over your heads whilst others strike a nerve.

one label that follows me around is 'eco designer', and please do not get me wrong - this is a label I happily apply to myself in part of the reply to the eternal question 'so, what do you do?'

what winds me up slightly are the preconceptions of some people to the phrase 'eco design'.

'oh - hippy stuff - all hair shirts, sandals and dirt eh?'
well quite frankly, no.
therefore it is nice when something pops along to reinforce the real meaning of a phrase and I was over the moon when I was given the new book 'Experimental Eco Design' (architecture / fashion / product) by Brower, Mallory and Ohiman.
for someone unsure as to what eco design is all about, this book is a revelation as it shows a section of the true scope of the subject.

so, what is eco design? well, from prefabricated, easily transported emergency housing to backpacks made from flour bags, stools made from cardboard pulp and bioluminescent lighting processes, the book is full of the wonderful ideas that designers have created to tackle one of the myriad of problems that eco design seeks to ease.

fantastic case studies are split with short essays, making the title both educational and inspirational. for any budding eco design student (and lets face it, all our design students should be concerned in their own ways) the book is essential reading, but this does not exclude it from the office shelf of a seasoned professional.

great for a flick through or a proper sit down and study, and at only £15, a bargain.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

oooh - p, p, pack up a picnic...

Sometimes I see things and turn in wonder to whoever I am with and proclaim - 'that is just genius.'

It does not happen very often, but I let rip a 'genius' whilst watching a very rare moment of TV this week.

'What to eat now' is another seasonal television programme that aims to educate us in the sustainable and low carbon seasonal plate, and is presented by the sparkly, childlike and very lively Valentine Warner.

The programme, which was based on creating the perfect picnic was rambling along nicely when the genius moment struck me and made me choke on my pasta.
Valentine hollowed out a split tin loaf of bread (organic I hope), and used it as a fully edible and protective lunchbox for a mini picnic - a jar of homemade mayonnaise, carrot sticks and other bits were piled in the cavity before the lid was stuck back on top and the whole thing was tied back together to resemble the unadulterated loaf once more.

Old Val used an elastic band, I would have used string, but there you go - my string obsession strikes again.

Fully edible, minimal waste and great to look at as well as eat. Genius.

So - go and have a bread picnic, and if it rains, have an bread based carpet picnic inside. Happy picnicking...

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

mud, thunder and a smattering of flowers...

Hampton Court Palace Flower Show was almost a wash out for me. Not because it wasn't a great show, but because our lovely weather decided to dump a considerable amount of rain on my head.
but, this is what boots and an umbrella were designed for, so we trooped off to discover the treats on the sprawling site of the show last week.

As last year, I was distinctly impressed by some of the conceptual gardens, which were pulling the crowds and challenging the idea of a 'show' garden.

A particular favourite was the sunken garden 'hard to see' which had a wonderful sunken pit edged with mirrors and filled with a plethora of lush planting. The pit surround was black rubber shreds which, even though they seem to be a defining feature of a HCPFS conceptual garden, worked extremely well.

A lot of the other gardens were nice in a lot of ways, but my other votes have to go to the wonderful Tony Smith with his Quilted Velvet garden and Sarah Eberle who created what I felt to be the most exciting element of the show - the sustainable 'hub'.

The floral marquees were stuffed to the brim once more, but it was the edible pavilion that really got me excited. Fantastic exhibits and I am in love with the beautiful lablab bean. Simply stunning.

The floral marquee was complimented by the floristry marquee, which we toured during one of the very many thunderous downpours. As expected, one of the busiest stalls was that of Jane Packer, who had chosen the British 'tea party' as her theme. Densely packed roses looked the part as cupcakes on oversized cake stands, but I was both shocked and amazed at how much they were charging for a vintage teacup containing a rose and a bit of florists sand. I'm in the wrong business.

Met up with some more chums who were actually working and not on a jolly, including Toby of HME, BioTecture, Ian Gill and the ever lovely James Alexander-Sinclair.

All in all a good day, but would have been soooo much better in the sun...

Friday, 3 July 2009

champagne supernova update 2...

the fizzing began and died off slightly, so straining began to remove the remnants of the elderflowers and lemon peel.

instead of the beautiful clear and crisp colouration I was expecting, it looks rather like cloudy lemonade, so a double straining technique was employed.

even though we are yet to officially test the alcohol content, we reckon the champagne is to be quite boozy as we felt a little lightheaded just pouring the stuff about, so we tried a glass to do a very unscientific sampling.

it really should be bottled for at least two weeks to develop, but despite the lack of vintage it actually tasted quite nice and pretty sophisticated - not bad for the contents of a hedgerow...