Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Trip to the Tanfield Railway

Sunniside History Stand at Tanfield Sept 15 2

Earlier this month it was Heritage Weekend during which local heritage attractions were promoted. I helped run a stand at the Tanfield Railway for the Sunniside History Society, of which I am deputy chairman.

We have also been organising a trip for members and residents to visit the Tanfield Railway on Sunday 4th October. There will also be a BBQ in the main shed. A vintage bus has been booked to take some of the visitors (we had only 64 places on it so the remaining 23 guests are making their own way to Tanfield).

We have now had to stop taking further bookings. Sorry if you were wanting tickets but hadn't booked. With 87 guests, we will be quite busy in the day.

Sunniside History Stand at Tanfield Sept 15 1

(photo courtesy of Alan Guest, Sunniside History Society Secretary)

Monday, September 28, 2015

My video of the eclipse - in less than a minute

Last night we set the alarm for 2am so we could be up for the lunar eclipse. We watched it from our back garden in Sunniside and for an hour I took a series of photos of the shadow of the earth crossing the moon's surface. The resulting video, less than a minute long, is above.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Action Day in Whickham South and Sunniside

Whickham South and Sunniside Action Day Sept 15 (3)

Gateshead Lib Dems' first action day of the autumn was held today in my ward, Whickham South and Swalwell. We effectively split into 2 groups. One went to Whickham to deliver our latest Focus newsletter. The other, which included me (and Cllr John McClurey - see above), went onto the doorsteps of Byermoor, Marley Hill and a bit of Sunniside. We had a positive response and a good return rate for the survey we were conducting.

Whickham South and Sunniside Action Day Sept 15 (2)

Whickham South and Sunniside Action Day Sept 15 (1)

Back in HQ (Cllr John McClurey's house) for lunch. A chance to catch up with others about conference and to pass jokes about David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn

Friday, September 25, 2015

The full set of photos from Bournemouth

Lib Dem conference Sept 15

Here are the photos from Bournemouth conference, all in one album. Enjoy!

Treating meat eaters "like smokers"

Pinkie Sept 15

This is Pinkie, one of my three goats, this morning. She is our milking goat. The other two are kept for meat production. Since turning to a life of self-sufficiency, I have reduced the amount of meat I consume. I have however increased the amount of  eggs and milk products I eat.

Becoming self-sufficient was a personal choice for me. It was a choice based on my view that we need to consume fewer of the world's resources and cut the negative impact our lifestyles have on the environment. I wanted to show others that it is possible to have a great quality of life while consuming less.

Egg, milk and especially meat production consume resources. Land is needed to produce fodder and graze livestock which could be used for growing food for direct human consumption. More calories are fed to livestock than are recovered from the meat produced. So it is right that we look at how balanced our food supply chain is.

But, food consumption is about choices. For people like me, it's about showing that food waste can be virtually eliminated and that more fruit and vegetables can be consumed without having to end meat consumption completely. It's about a balanced approach, consuming a balanced diet that is from sustainable sources. The key description is "balanced".

And then along comes Kerry McCarthy, Labour's new shadow farming and food minister, who wants consumers of meat, eggs and milk products to be "treated like smokers". There is of course a world of difference between polluting your own body and the air around you by the unnecessary consumption of tobacco and eating food, a wholly necessary function to keep us alive. McCarthy's totally absurb, hectoring, needlessly intrusive attack on anyone who is not a vegan is mind boggling in its stupidity and highly counter productive for those of us genuinely committed to improving the health of the nation and reducing the impact food production has on the environment.

I don't give a damn that Kerry McCarthy is a vegan. That's a personal choice and is undoubtedly taken by her for reasons she believes to be totally right. But if she is really serious about wanting to tackle the imbalances in our nation's diet, she is damaging the cause.

I wonder what local Labour members in Gateshead make of it. Before the council meeting yesterday, as Labour members munched their way through their taxpayer funded meat flans and chicken in breadcrumbs, did their shadow farming minister give them ammunition to attack milk, egg, cheese and meat producers like me? Or shall we set them a test? How about following the instruction of their shadow farm boss and have only vegan food served before full council. Would they be able to stomach that?

If you want to read Kerry McCarthy's comments, click on this link.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tim's conference speech

Tim Farron speech Sept 15 (9)

The traditional end to conference is the leader's speech. Today was Tim Farron's first and it was one of the best I've heard from a Lib Dem leader. A great call for the need for liberalism, a great rallying cry.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The traditional last evening of conference

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (20)

It's the last evening of conference and that means......the glee club, an event in which Lib Dems take the piss out of other politicians, but most importantly, out of ourselves. Self-deprecation is the sort of thing never to be expected from sour faced socialists, or callous Conservatives. Nevertheless, there's only so much of the glee club I can cope with before feeling the need to return to my hotel. Anyway, here are the photos from tonight' event.

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (24)

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (21)

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (15)

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (6)

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (4)

Lib Dem Glee Club Sept 15 (2)

A moving tribute to Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy tribute Sept 15 (3)

Conference hall was packed this afternoon for a moving tribute to the late Charles Kennedy. Introduced by Ian Wrigglesworth, a video of his political life was shown. There were not many dry eyes in the hall. A great personality. Britain is the poorer without him.

Charles Kennedy tribute Sept 15 (1)

Lib Dem fashion accessories

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (9)

If you feel that your wardrobe is looking a bit dated, call in at the exhibition area of conference where you can splash out on the latest Lib Dem catwalk fashion accessories. And for you lucky people, here are a few photos.

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (8)

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (7)

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (6)

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (4)

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (1)

If you don't want to stand out in a crowd by wearing lovely Lib Dem yellow, try pale green:

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (5)

And if there is anyone of a Jeremy Corbyn disposition, you can keep the red flag flying with the next generation by buying a House of Lords red baby grow.

Lib Dem fashion items Sept 15 (10)

I'm not sure if any of these will make it onto the Lorraine Kelly programme, not that I ever watch that rubbish.

Up and about early in Bournemouth

Bournemouth Pier Sept 15 11

I was up and about this morning before most people had woken. The staff at the Marlins Hotel were very good about it and let me have breakfast early. My plan was to get some photos of the pier and beach for my travel blog.

Bournemouth Beach Sept 15 7

Bournemouth surfers Sept 15 3

The surfers however had hit the beach long before I got there.

Bournemouth Pier Sept 15 2

Bournemouth Beach Sept 15 1

Tim Farron interview Sept 15 2

I wasn't the only early bird. Tim Farron was on the Global stand in the exhibition hall doing an early morning interview.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cooking the books at Lib Dem conference

Jonathan with Lib Dem cookbook Sept 15

Last night I went to the London Lib Dem reception. I ended up bidding successfully for a copy of the Camden Lib Dems' cookery book "Serve a Liberal Helping", signed by Shirley Williams. Camden Lib Dems are now being warned that I will be testing out some of the recipes - and I'll be filming the whole experience. Watch this space on YouTube!

Nick Clegg's speech to conference

Nick Clegg speech Sept 15 (11)

The conference hall was packed for Nick Clegg at 12.20pm. He gave an excellent speech outlining our achievements in government, the dangers the country now faces with the Conservatives ruling with a majority and opportunities for Lib Dems now that Labour has abandoned the liberal progressive centre for the far left. But most of all, he warned of the dangers to the unity of the UK and our future standing in the world of coming out of the EU.

He had a well deserved standing ovation.

Nick Clegg speech Sept 15 (7)

Nick Clegg speech Sept 15 (5)

Nick Clegg speech Sept 15 (3)

Lib Dem conference latest: bees buzz off as BBC backed in ballot

bee swarm July 15 1

I arrived at conference this morning with, for me, an unusual interest in the Conference Daily Announcements, a daily publication all about the debates and amendments. I thumbed through looking for the results of the ballot on emergency motions. Sadly, the one about the bees did not get selected. It was beaten by, among others, a call to protect the BBC. As I pointed out to people, we can live without the BBC, but we can't live without the bees! I headed to the over-priced coffee bar to console myself. But at least I don't need to write a speech!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Lib Dem mugs

Tim Farron mug Sept 15 (1)

It's a must-have item from the Lib Dems - a Lib Dem mug! Now on sale from the Lib Dem Sunday market with Tim Farron leading the sales drive.

Lib Dem mugs Sept 15 (3)

Lib Dem mugs Sept 15 (2)

In an attempt to keep production costs down and variety at a minimum, the Lib Dem Mug Company Ltd are providing mugs bearing only the faces of current MPs or David Lloyd George. They make excellent raffle prizes at local party social events.

Get them whilst stocks last!

Lib Dem mugs Sept 15 (1)

Tim's first Q&A

Tim Farron Q&A Sept 15 (19)

The first photos from Tim Farron's first conference Q&A are hot off the press - or rather just uploaded to Flickr from the memory card. The hall was crowded. I didn't have a seat so whilst Tim was extolling the virtues of Prefab Sprout, I was prowling the floor looking to take shots at unsuspecting victims. I did manage to shoot a particular reptile of the media.

Tim Farron Q&A Sept 15 (2)

Tim Farron Q&A Sept 15 (14)

Tim Farron Q&A Sept 15 (20)

Tim Farron Q&A Sept 15 (12)

Vote for the bees

Beekeeping Jul 10 2

Here at Lib Dem conference we get to vote on which emergency motions will be debated later in the week. There are 6 tabled and 3 need to be chosen. There's one about the Conservative government relaxing the ban on certain insecticides which are believed to have been very damaging to honey bees. As a beekeeper I've been drumming up support for the motion but voting closed at 1pm and I'm not yet aware of the result. If the bee motion is given the go ahead, there will be a huge rush from the beekeepers at conference (known to total 3 of us) to be called to speak. Watch this space.

And the award for slowest service in Bournemouth goes to ....

Slowest service in conference Sept 15

....the Cafe Terrace in the Exhibition Centre. Expect to wait ages in the queue. Watch staff in slow motion and remember to groan when the person in front of you asks for a cappuccino - that adds another 5 minutes to the wait.

I suggest you get your overpriced tea and sandwiches eslewhere.

Lots of pics from the PCA reception

Lib Dem PCA reception Sept 15

I was the official photographer at the Parliamentary Candidates Association reception last night. If you were there, and you want your pic, click on the above, thumb through til you find your photo and download.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Lib Dem version of Britain's Got Talent Show

Lib Dem conference rally Sept 15 (1)

Crowds were building this evening in eager anticipation of the conference rally. This beat-the-drum-for-Liberal-Democracy event is something of a conference tradition. Once the doors were finally opened, the members poured in with eager anticipation. I'm not sure if they were expecting to be serenaded by the London International Gospel Choir but it turned out to be something akin to a Lib Dem version of Britain's Got Talent!

Lib Dem conference rally Sept 15 (11)

Meanwhile, Tim Farron was able to use his speech to list all the great chart toppers from the 1980s, including the Clash and the Smiths. Strangely, Kylie Minogue was absent from his list. And then there were those great comedy series from the 1980s, especially the Young Ones and the Labour Party. For those of you born after the 1980s, I refer you to the Gold Channel on Sky 110. The Young Ones feature heavily in the repeat of the repeats (along with Blackadder and Fawlty Towers).

The 1980s references came about because of Newly Old Labour have just stepped into a time warp and headed back to relive the miners' strike, padded shoulders and the not so glories of the Thatcher years.

Lib Dem conference rally Sept 15 (16)

I think the judges decided Tim is through to the next round.