All the good in the world

This morning we woke to  another tragedy. In all the news stories, however, the statistics are the same – one bad person and hundreds of good people.

Remember that when you are feeling depressed – when there were people in need, despite the danger, dozens and dozens of strangers did not run away, they turned up to help.

I suggest that the appropriate response to any terror attack like the one in Manchester last night is to be kind to as many people as you can. So, go out and smile at a stranger today, or buy someone a coffee, or make a donation to charity, or tell someone you care… let’s make the world a brighter place.


share some love

Three Things Thursday: 19 January 2017

Inspired by Emily of Nerd in the Brain (note her new self-hosted web site) here are my Three Things Thursday. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, antibiotics. It’s very rare Chez Snail that any of us take antibiotics – we are generally quite healthy and we don’t go rushing to see the doctor with every cough and sniffle. With excessive and inappropriate use of antibiotics, various bacteria are building resistance and therefore becoming untreatable. I’m pleased to say, however, that when required they mostly still work. In fact, this week it was Max who was in need – the poor little chap developed an abscess on one of his anal glands, resulting in a very swollen and sore bottom. However, a shot of antibiotics from the vet and a subsequent course of tablets and he’s pretty much mended…

Second, Muraya koenigii. My recent interest in Indian cooking has led me to start investigating growing some of my own exotic ingredients. I was so happy, therefore, to discover somewhere I could buy a curry leaf plant. They apparently make great house plants, so this one will live in the house in winter (needs to be above 15ºC) and in the limery in the summer. I do hope it thrives, as I have lots of recipes that include curry leaves.


curry leaf plant


Third, the kindness of strangers (and friends). The Sixty Million Trebles group on Facebook was set up as a project to make blankets for charity (at least half going to refugees). However, it’s so much more than that and full of kind people. On Sunday the organisers set up a ‘Solve My January Blues’ event for the group. You could post up a request to cheer you up in the depths of January (the group is based in the UK, although we do have members worldwide) and members tried to help. I do find January a bit glum, so I asked whether anyone would send me a hand-written letter. Well, wow – what a response… I’m all smiles after only four days, look…


lovely letters and cards

And a bonus smile… these flowering in my garden today:

So, those are 3+1 things making me smile this week – what about you?

Three Things Thursday: 25 August 2016

As usual I’m joining with Emily of Nerd in the Brain (and others) for Three Things Thursday’. As she says…

*three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

First, breaking even. I’ve now got to the point where my year’s pass for the local swimming pool is paying off. Since the middle of January I have been swimming 59 times. This means that every time I go for the rest of the year is effectively free (in fact break-even was at 56).


I think this is the only photo I have of the swimming pool

Second, moths. I love moths and we’ve been enjoying visits from a variety of them in both the house and the garden. Mr Snail has taken some lovely photographs over the past couple of weeks, here are a few of them…

Third, generosity. I have received two large parcels of yarn from Gabriella, one of you lovely people who follow this blog. She was having a sort-out and asked me if I might be able to make use of some of her unwanted stash. I was completely bowled over by what arrived. Some of this will be used in my beginners crochet class in October, and I plan to make a blanket with some of it and other yarn in my stash to send to the marvellous charity Knit for Peace. There was even a knitted square in with the yarn that I shall use as the centre for the blanket.


Such kindness

So that’s it for this week. What are you feeling grateful for?


Small acts

IMGP6674I’m still feeling rather gloomy about the state of the world, but a friend pointed me in the direction of the following quote earlier today:

Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. JRR Tolkien

Being at home working means that it’s quite difficult to manage any spontaneous small acts of kindness right now. I was kind to Mr Snail this morning by making leek and potato soup – his favourite, apparently – but it seems like a very small thing.

However, I have discovered a good way to do some crafty kindness… a lovely charity Knit for Peace. I came across them as a result of a Twitter post and am rather taken with their ethos:

Knit for Peace UK is an initiative of the Charities Advisory Trust. It grew out of projects we developed in Rwanda and India, which brought together women of traditionally hostile communities (Hutu and Tutsi war widows in Rwanda and Muslim and Hindu women in the slums of Delhi) to knit clothes for street children and orphans. We paid the knitters and distributed the clothes through local NGOs.

The funds came from the Good Gifts Catalogue (another of our initiatives). Knitters in the UK asked if they could knit for those in need, and we discovered there was a huge need for knitters to have someone to knit for. Once we said we would distribute donated knitting we found we were inundated.

Here at Knit for Peace we believe that knitting is good for people in all sorts of ways. As well as being fun and therapeutic, knitting brings people together and gives a way of helping others in need, providing benefits both to the knitter and the recipient. Based on our experience of developing Knit for Peace over the last few years, we have learned that knitting is extremely important as an activity that can be carried out right into extreme old age and helps improve long-term health.

Our policy is to encourage people to give, whether it is time or money. So we set about finding outlets. We now distribute regularly to over 80 outlets, including hospitals, women’s refuges, refugee drop in centres, prisons, community groups, and hospices as well as to developing countries. We never sell the clothes; we send them where they are needed. We also pass on donations of yarn and needles to enable people on low incomes to knit. The operation has grown organically, and we estimate we have over 11,000 knitters.

norway knitting9

This can be an act of kindness

How great is that? They will accept all sorts of knitted items and find a good home for them. So any knitter/crocheter with a bit of time on their hands can contribute… whether you like making hats and scarves or blankets or cardigans, your work will be found a good home. This means, that I can manage a small act of kindness any time I like, just by picking up a hook or needles. I think that I’m going to start making granny squares, which can be turned into a blanket or dressing gown when I have enough.

So, can you cheer me up? Do you have any tips for being kind or any stories to share?

Will you share my dry space?

It’s been a glorious sunny day again today… not the perfect time to receive an umbrella, or rather a chumbrella:

This one is mine

This one is mine

The fine weather meant I couldn’t immediately rush out and offer to share my dry space with anyone, but I do have plans.

The chumbrella is the idea of an artist called Sarah Nadin. Last year, she attended one of my Introduction to Permaculture courses. At the time she was just getting started with the chumbrella project and didn’t have one to show us, but things have moved on and she’s now asking people (like me) to trial the idea and give some feedback.

Here is what it says on the chumbrella website:



#chumbrella is a social art project that aims to make our streets happier, friendly and healthier places to be. Designed in Stoke-on-Trent by Artist Sarah Nadin, the concept was developed in response to a noticeable lack of social interaction on our streets and in our towns. Sarah realised that the humble umbrella could help address this unsocial behaviour by breaking down the barriers to interaction and encouraging small acts of kindness…

… A #chumbrella is a distinctive yellow and white umbrella that promotes small acts of kindness and friendliness, by connecting people who seek a shelter or just wish to say hello!

So, now I have my #chumbrella, I will be taking it out and getting some reaction and sharing my experiences. There are three specific events that I plan to take it to: an open day at Denmark Farm Conservation Centre (20 June), my next Introduction to Permaculture course at Karuna (10-12 July) and the 2015 International Permaculture Convergence in London (10-16 September). Each of these is a rather different situation and will attract different sorts of people, so it will be interesting to see the responses. Plus, I’ll take it out on the streets whenever I think it might get some use.

Really it’s the convergence that I’m most looking forward to using it at, as it could provide a way to get to know all sorts of interesting people from around the world… at least if it rains! It could act as a parasol (let’s hope so!), but I will be disappointed if the weather is just dull all week.

The idea is that #chumbrella owners make use of social media to let people know what they are up to, so if you have a twitter account, check out the hash tag and follow @mychumbrella to see what’s going on. You see… I knew that Twitter account of mine (@thesnailofhappy) would come in useful!

So, what do you think? Would you come and share my dry space?


Hand-decorated packaging






The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted that I have changed the tagline that appears in the header on every page. It used to say ‘small steps to sustainability’ because documenting such steps was the original aim of my writing. However, I have come to realise that, because of the way things have evolved, that isn’t exactly a great description of what I write about now. Over the past three years I have become increasingly aware that what I want is a kinder world – one where we care for the environment and for each other. That’s not to say that I don’t think sustainability isn’t an important part of it, just that I want to emphasise the broader goal. Originally I was going to change the words to ‘small steps to a better world’, but on consideration, I think ‘kinder’ is more appropriate for my current goals.

So, what have I done on the kindness front recently?

One ready for stuffing and another on the needles

One ready for stuffing and another on the needles

Well, there’s the knockering  of course. I’m currently signed up to make five of them and I’ve just ordered some more soft cotton yarn, which is what they are made of.

I’ve agreed to have a #chumbrella to trial. This means I’ll be going out into the world with the aim of offering to share my ‘dry space’ with anyone who wants to. I plan to take it to the International Permaculture Convergence in September and share it with the world!

I’ve been kind to myself by giving myself plenty of time to think about an offer of some possible work. I’m not sure that I want to jump “out of the frying pan into the fire” as far as teaching is concerned, so I’m going to think very carefully about what I take on and where I go from here.

Not sure which one was responsible... I have grovelled to Peter the builder

Not sure which one was responsible… I have grovelled to Peter the builder

I’ve been kind to builders… making lots of tea and ensuring that they are happy to be here (despite a ‘paw marks in cement’ incident earlier today).

And I’ve done some ethical shopping, nothing frivilous: loose tea and coffee transported home in our own containers; a visit to the local farm shop; and I’ve ordered some replacement bamboo water filters (no plastic in those).

So, how have you been kind this week?

A well aimed kick

On Sunday I set off across Wales to go and stay with my sister. Driving over the mountains the car started making a strange noise, followed almost immediately by a thump. I pulled into the first available lay-by and discovered my rear tyre on the drivers side was completely flat.

The offending wheel

The offending wheel

I am happy to change a wheel, so I got the spare out, loosened the wheel nuts, jacked up the car, removed the nuts completely and… couldn’t get the wheel off. A young couple stopped to offer help. They couldn’t get the wheel off either. I do have breakdown cover so, reluctantly, I called the breakdown service and awaited their arrival. Then a BMW pulled up and a man got out and offered to help. I explained my problem and he gave the wheel two sharp kicks in the centre at the top, at which point it fell off! He said he’d put the new wheel on whilst I cancelled my breakdown assistance. It was all sorted out in a trice and he disappeared before I could thank him properly.

And the moral of the story? Well, there are probably two. First that the world is full of kind people, and second that some problems are solved by a well-aimed kick!

%d bloggers like this: