||Did you know that tomorrow marks the start of National Downshifting Week? No? Well now you do.
It's the second year this event has run and the idea behind it is to inspire individuals, companies, children and schools to live simpler, happier lives and be kinder to the environment at the same time.
The following's a list of activities suggested for individuals:
* Book a half-day off work to spend entirely with someone you love, no DIY allowed. Yepp, I can do that.
* Cook a meal from scratch, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, preferably organic. I don't do cooking and I'm not sure we could source everything locally anymore anyway.
* Cut up a credit card Are they kidding?
* Donate a bag of clothes, toys or useful items to a local charity shop, refuge or recycling centre. I do this once a month anyway, although we do have one organic food shop and a once a month farmer's market.
* Hand-make a simple card for the next birthday or event on your calendar. I've tried the home-made card malarkey and couldn’t get on with it. And besides, I have a draw full of birthday cards that would just go waste
* Eliminate 3 non-essential purchases this week. If they knew how my bank balance looks, they'd know I'm always eliminating at least 3 purchases every week!
* Plant something in the garden you can cultivate and eat and start a compost heap. We have a compost bin that's already too full up but don't have room for a second. No veggies but we do grow herbs.
* Consider reputable work at home parents and small local businesses, for services you need. Already do.
* Tonight, turn off the television, switch on the radio, play a few games and talk. We're not a big television family anyway so when we do sit together, it's usually to chat. And we do play games together, too.
* Volunteer an hour of your time to a local charity shop, animal shelter, hospice etc. I've done my share of charity work, thanks.
So that was it. To be honest, I would have expected more. But, having said that, there are some words of wisdom on the site that give food for thought (just felt like throwing in those clichés - it's sort of like being naughty in class, isn't it?) like:
* Kindness is infectious, give someone else the bug.
* A high street without decent, local shops, is a street that's lost it's high.
* Landfill is one stroke away from land full, and…
* The very best things in life are free.
If you're interesting in downshifting there's an e-book available from Holistic Local. Just click the link and it'll take you straight to it.
You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with writing. Well, the way I see it, reading is definitely part of downshifting in that the individual slows down in order to relax with a book. A good story gives us time out from our hectic routines whilst stimulating our imaginations.
The downside of books is that they aren't cheap. A friend of mine, who spends most of her leisure time parked in front of the TV and has perhaps read a handful of books in her life (or at least in the time I've known her), argues that SKY costs her £15.99 a month for as much entertainment as she wants. A book costs £6.99 for a paperback and takes two evenings at the most to read. So, if she were to read instead of watch TV, it would cost her more than £100 a month. Unfortunately, apart from suggesting second-hand books, there's no way to argue with that.
The laptop continued to close itself down while I was trying to work yesterday so by 5 o'clock I was so fed up with the whole business of trying to write that I went to Stoke and bought a new one.
The idea was to take advantage of PCWorld's "6 months interest free credit" by paying part now and the rest later so that the remainder could go towards the mobility scooter and then save up for the other half, but as I'd dashed out in a bit of a huff, I hadn't taken any forms of ID with me. No gas bill, telephone bill, credit card bill or any other bloomin' bill (and believe me, I get enough of 'em). I had to have a new one though-my work depends on it-so I had to pay cash (ouch… I can still feel the pain).
It's a beautiful, shiny Compaq Presario and although I knew my old one was very much outdated, I had no idea just how slow it was until I tried this. Where mine was a plough horse, this one's more like Sleipnir, although it does only have four legs! (Who? Go learn some Norse Mythology).
I'm like the proverbial pig at the moment. I can't stop looking a the lovely "Brightview" screen (the colours…omg… the colours!) and opening programmes just to see how quick it is. My old one was so slow that I'd click the icon to open Word and then knit a few rows or read a couple of paragraphs of a book while I was waiting for it to load. This one just goes "whoom" and it's there! Oh for the wonders of modern technology.
Couple this with the new mobile telephone I got on Tuesday (a pink and white Sony Ericsson - very girly, I must say) and I'm feeling as if my birthday must've been changed to an earlier date. Not that I get presents that cost as much as this laptop for my birthday, but you know what I mean.
I even wrote 1731 new words on her (her being the laptop) last night! It's sooooo cool to see that blue marker's moved past the mid-point now that I think I might celebrate at the weekend. A friend also got engaged this week but as she's in the States, I couldn't celebrate with her so two reasons for bringing on the bubbly! Well… a bottle of sparkling white has bubbles, doesn't it?