Boxing Day

Had a lovely Christmas with the family and managed to not look at my email for a whole day! It was worth it though as when I switched it on today there were some lovely messages from the people behind the scenes trying to make the new East Devon Green Party a success. You know who you are – you stars!!!

I’m feeling really positive about everything today hence me smiling out in the Boxing Day cold feeding the chickens this afternoon (pic above). Sharon Howe and I are just trying to work out which ‘jobs’ we’ll be taking on in the new East Devon Green Party and still trying to find a treasurer…

But…two out of three aint bad – so we’re getting there.

More soon…

First (Founding) Meeting of East Devon Green Party

Following the meeting in Sidmouth on Saturday 12th December organised by Ricky Knight (thanks Ricky), Sharon Howe and myself have set a date for the first East Devon Green Party meeting. It will take place at the same venue as last time – at Twyford House in Sidmouth at 2pm on Saturday 16th January 2010.

There’s a community market in Sidmouth that morning – which should be finished at about 1pm if you fancy combining the two events – I know I will be!

We still need at least three founding members to set up the group – so if you think you could commit to being the treasurer, the coordinator/local party contact or the nominating officer PLEASE contact me asap. My email is

British Father of Three Faces Execution in China

When you’re relaxing over Christmas – spare a thought for Akmal Shaikh (pictured above). Akmal is a 53 year old father of three from London.

Akmal is due to be executed by the Chinese next Tuesday December 29th for allegedly smuggling drugs. He was arrested in September 2007 on arrival in Urumqi, the capital of the far western Xinjiang region, in possession of four kg (8.8lb) of heroin. Campaigners said that he was duped into carrying the drugs for a criminal gang.

The Times Online reports that if the death penalty is carried out, Mr Shaikh would become the first national from a European Union country to be executed in China in decades.

The British prisoners’ rights charity, Reprieve said it has medical evidence that Mr Shaikh, who is married with three children, suffered from a delusion that he was going to China to record a hit single that would usher in world peace. However, he was duped by a criminal gang into unwittingly carrying drugs for them into China, Reprieve alleged, saying that his strange behaviour was “influenced or caused by” his mental illness.

In what could be the last week of Akmal Shaikh’s life, his children Leilla Horsnell, Abdul Jabar Shaikh and Imran Shaikh plead for their father’s life issuing a heartrending plea for mercy from the Chinese Government. Having not previously publicly commented on the case out of respect for the Chinese legal process, they now feel the situation is too desperate to remain silent:

“We are horribly shocked and upset that our father’s final appeal has been denied and an execution date set. We wish to make a personal and desperate plea to the Chinese Government to spare his life. Our father has been seriously ill for much of his life and we would be devastated to lose him in these circumstances. We respectfully hope that particularly during this holiday season the Chinese people will show their great capacity for compassion and humanity and grant him a reprieve.”

Wikipedia states that China currently uses two methods of execution. The most common is execution by firearms which uses an assault rifle to fire a single shot of an expanding hollow point bullet to the head.

Lethal Injection was introduced in 1997. It differs from its application in the U.S. in that it is carried out in fixed locations as well as in specially modified mobile execution vans. As lethal injection becomes more common, debate has intensified over the fairness of relying on lethal injection to execute high officials convicted of corruption while ordinary criminals get executed by firearms. It is public opinion in China that lethal injection is an easier way for the condemned to die.

Members of the People’s Armed Police carry out an execution of a convicted female double murderer with a rifle shot to the back of her head (Image from the 1980’s) China leads the world in executions.

It’s now up to Gordon Brown and the rest of our government to stop China from killing this man. You can help by checking out the Reprieve website – see or look at the blood curdling statistics over on Amnesty International.

Susan’s Vegetarian Hotpot

I’m making veggie hotpot for dinner – and my little sister often asks for my recipes, so I’m adding it on here for Susan and anyone else interested in a delicious wholesome vegetarian or vegan dinner, to warm you up on a cold winters day like today. If you eat meat and want to know how having a veggie meal once a week can help reduce global warming – click here to find out more about Meat Free Mondays.

So here you go…

Get a casserole dish (with a lid) and fill it with the following:

One or two onions – sliced, chopped, chunky or fine – however you like your onion (my children prefer onion chopped up small so they don’t even notice it but it still adds essential flavour)

I use at least three big garlic cloves – more if anyone in the family is ill as garlic is sooooo good for you, chop them up finely and stick them in the pot

One parsnip sliced

Two carrots sliced

One red pepper, sliced or chopped

One bag of quorn pieces fried, or a packet of quorn or other veggie/vegan sausages fried or oven baked first then sliced and in the pot (this part is not essential – you could just have a vegetable dish)

Tin chopped tomatoes

2-3 potatoes fairly thinly sliced

Half a tin of chick peas

Then add some stock – I use one veggie stock cube (Oxo or Knorr) in about 300mls boiling water. I add a teaspoon or two of marmite to the stock as it’s so good for you and adds to the taste.

Add herbs & spices – the ones I like in my hotpot (at the moment – as it changes from year to year) are fenugreek, thyme, basil, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt & pepper. Experiment with the  flavours you like and please add suggestions in the comment box at the bottom if you find some tasty flavours.

Mix it all round a bit and stick the lid on and put your casserole dish in the oven on medium for about 2 hours or high for an hour, prod with a fork to see if the veggies are cooked enough for you.

This makes enough for my family of four – usually with some left over for lunch the next day! The great thing about hotpot is you can stick anything in it really – especially left over veggies in the fridge like a leek, green beans, swede or bit of cauliflower or broccoli. Sweet potato is tasty in hot pot too.

I serve my hotpot with some crusty bread and/or couscous, bulgar wheat or Quinoa

Don’t forget to put all your veggie peelings into your compost bin or boil them up to make a lovely layers mash for your chickens like I do (thanks to Holly for this idea!)

I’ve found some other Vegetarian Hotpot recipes if you fancy getting adventurous…

Great BBC article on Simon Rimmer’s veggie restaurant including a recipe for Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot

Vegetarian Society recipe for Spanish Vegetable Hotpot

Spicy Veggie Hotpot from Asda

Nigel’s Eco Store

Stumbled upon a great webstore advertised on The People’s Republic of South Devon website. Nigel’s Eco Store is full of fantastic green shopping ideas like Soapnut Shells, an eco friendly, natural and organic way to wash your clothes and a whole range of solar ipod/mobile phone chargers (a particularly gorgeous silver version pictured below). Eco kettles are a revelation too and I really must have an eco stapler in my office (pictured above)! According to Wasteonline “If everyone in UK offices saved just one staple a day, we’d save 72 tonnes of metal a year”.

I particularly like Nigel’s helpful articles like How to Have a Green Christmas and Reduce your Carbon Footprint: Nigel’s Top 10 Energy Saving Tips for the Home. Great site – we’ll ask Nigel for a donation towards a raffle we’ll hold at our next event to raise funds for the East Devon Greens – what do you say Nigel? Can you spare anything for our Green Raffle?

Future Food Shortages

I read a really thought provoking article in the Guardian last week on food shortages in the future.

“People do not quite realise the scale of the issue,” says Professor Mike Bevan, acting director of the John Innes Centre in Norfolk. “This is one of the most serious problems that science has ever faced.” In Britain the lives of hundreds of thousands of people will be threatened by food shortages. Across the globe, tens of millions – if not hundreds of millions – will be affected.

Over the next 40 years Britain’s population will rise from 60 to 75 million while the world’s will leap from 6.8 to 9 billion. Feeding all these people will stretch human ingenuity to its limit. Crop yields will have to jump, a goal that will have to be achieved in the middle of global climatic disruption. At the same time, farmers will find many aids – in particular, chemical fertilisers – that they have come to rely on will no longer be available .

Click here to read the Guardian article

Maybe having less children would help? What do you think? See my blog How Many Children Should We Have?

You can also read about Meat Free Mondays – and how this could make a difference to global warming.

Members Needed for NEW East Devon Green Party

Would you like a fairer, cleaner, more affordable future for everyone? Are you disillusioned with the other political parties and want to be part of something different, something exciting and NEW right here in East Devon? Please add your comment on the bottom of this blog if you would like to express an interest in making a LOCAL East Devon group come to life – we need members TODAY! Our first meeting is planned for Saturday January 16th 2010 in Sidmouth. You can also email me – Sharon Pavey direct for more details on

I am hoping to stand for the general election in the spring if we can get an East Devon group off the ground – PLEASE help us make this happen. Get in touch. That’s me at the bottom with one of my chickens!

The Green Party is the only party that has the policies to tackle head-on the economic crisis and at the same time lay the foundations for a sustainable and fair society.

Life on Earth is under immense pressure. It is human activity, more than anything else, which is threatening the well-being of the environment on which we depend. Conventional politics has failed us because its values are fundamentally flawed. The Green Party isn’t just another political party. Green politics is a new and radical kind of politics guided by core principles like building a sustainable society that guarantees our long-term future.

Humankind depends on the diversity of the natural world for its existence. Green Party members do not believe that other species are expendable. Our actions should also take account of the well-being of other nations, other species, and future generations. We should not pursue our well-being to the detriment of theirs.

A healthy society is based on voluntary co-operation between empowered individuals in a democratic society, free from discrimination whether based on race, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religion, social origin or any other prejudice. The Green Party believes in democratic participation and accountability by ensuring that decisions are taken at the closest practical level to those affected by them.

If you need to check whether you are in the East Devon constituency which includes Axminster, Sidmouth, Seaton, Exmouth, Axmouth and Budleigh Salterton simply click here and enter your postcode.

Are There Plently More Fish in the Sea?

My little family and I were all very tired last night after visiting Taunton after school to get a few Christmas bits, so we thought we’d opt for an easy dinner and get chips from the chippy on the way back home in Chard. The kids and I are veggie so we just had a bag of chips each, but hubby wanted some fish with his chips. I said to him I’d ask the person in the chip shop which was the best fish to buy – the one which has healthy stocks, and is basically environmentally friendly sustainably produced seafood which is not intensively fished. Dan said there’s no way they’d know but I defended them and gave them a chance…

…so (and good job I don’t mind sounding like a total idiot in public) I asked the young girl behind the counter. She didn’t understand me and I had to repeat myself (now with people starting to look at the mad woman holding up the queue in the chip shop!). She said “Sorry I don’t have a clue but I’ll ask the manager” just as the manager walked in. I thought, great I’m going to get my answer now and get Dan some ‘good’ fish.

The manager smiled and said “tuna” and I replied “none of these then?” She explained that all their fish was cod and had been caught way up in the Russian sea, but didn’t know anymore than that. I got hubby a cod anyway and decided on the way home to write this blog and find out which is a good fish to buy at your local fish and chip shop – as to be honest Dan was right and they didn’t know what I meant and didn’t seem to have a clue what they were selling? If this is the same across the whole country then I’m not impressed!

The website Fishonline helps people, businesses and organisations which are concerned about declining fish stocks and the welfare of our seas. The Marine Conservation Society FISHONLINE website can help you identify which fish are from well managed sources and/or caught using methods that minimise damage to marine wildlife and habitats. I used this site to look up cod, it said:

The Pacific cod fishery is reported to be well-managed with healthy stocks. By-catch is monitored and the fishery closed if acceptable by-catch levels are exceeded. The Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Freezer Longline Fishery for Pacific Cod was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2006.

After some more research into the Russian seas – as the lady in the shop said their fish were caught way up in the Russian seas…..I’ve found that those seas are the Artic Ocean and the Bering Sea. The Atlantic Ocean is much closer to home and she didn’t say they were from there but much further north. It’s very hard to find any info on this – but then I stumbled upon this article on the wwf website about the artic sea which is the huge piece of water across the north of Norway and Russia.

This site says that “More than half of the entire world’s cod comes from the Barents Sea – the UK being a significant market. With global cod catches having fallen by 70% over the past 30 years, it is vital that fish are sustainably managed.”

So this is not sounding so good now is it. But if anyone is reading this and knows more about which fishes are good and not so good – please do add your own comments. According to the Seafish website (the authority on seafood) “more than 250 million fish and chip shop meals (featuring fish) are sold a year, the traditional dish of fish and chips is still top of the league of Britain’s favourite fast foods. There are around 10,500 fish and chip shops in the UK.

The Eatwell website says “Around the world, some types of fish, especially in certain areas, are threatened by being over-fished. At the same time, we’re eating more fish and shellfish in this country and across Europe. Fish and shellfish farming (and other types of what are known as ‘sustainable aquaculture’) have a significant role to play in meeting our demand for fish and shellfish, along with fishing at sea.


East Devon Constituency

Been researching my local parliamentary constituency here in East Devon as I’m still thinking about running for the Green Party in the next General Election in spring 2010. The East Devon area covers the wards of Axminster, Beer and Branscombe, Budleigh, Coly Valley, Exmouth, Newbridges, Newton Poppleford and Hartford, Otterhead, Raleigh, Seaton, Sidmouth, Trinity, Woodbury and Lympstone and Yarty.

I think I live in the Yarty ward, but finding it extremely difficult to find this out online. The current Member of Parliament for East Devon is Hugo Swire, of the Conservative Party.