Is Empathy only present if you are well and well fed?

Starvation Diet. What is it?

Mmmmmm chocolate, Mmmmmm sandwich, Mmmmmm doughnuts, Mmmmmm beer. Spoilt for choice. Trying to resist. When I resist I put the money in a pot. When the pot is full I send it (the money, not the pot) to somebody who needs it to survive. The art comes about through the documentation of the process, here and in other places. There is no end to this project.

26 May 2010

Question Time

What one thing;

directly kills 1.2 million people worldwide a year

causes injury to 50 million people a year

kills or injures many more poor people than rich people

kills or injures more children than any other age group?

A growing list of really nice things

To keep on top of my vow to try and eat only things which are really nice I'm making a list and checking it twice(sorry couldn't resist the Christmas song link. I'm actually just making it, not checkin it twice at all. This will grow as, hopefully, I find more and more nice things or other people suggest them and I venture to check them out.

Coffee and Walnut Cake from The Hollies Farm Shop in Little Budworth You can almost excuse them calling it a "Concept Cafe" Whatever the monkeys that is, I've not encountered many concepts over my coffee and cake thus far.

Flourless chocolate cake from Cafe Curio, near the bridge in Berwick Upon Tweed
Of course it may only be quite this memorable if you have just slip slidded through the snow to get there.

Almost anything from The Goshawk pub, just off the train at Mouldsworth Particular memories of a deep fried Jam sandwich which I don't think they sell anynore, Shame.

Bread from the Cheshire Smokehouse Especially when you have been bus hoping from Knutsford and sit on the green to eat it.

Banana and date Cake from my oven
when I get round to stirring it up and putting it there.

Cakes at Delemere Forest Station Cafe best when you have raced up on your bike just in time before they close for the day.

To be continued. Please feel free to post comments with your suggestions for me to check out.

Elderflower cordial hunter gatherer

In the olden days, much further back than those olden days that older people say were much better, women would be the gatherers. Spending long amounts of time foraging with the aim of staying alive. The thrill of the hunt was all very well and good but it was these hours of spine bending stooping, looking and picking which formed the bulk of early humans diet with meat only on the menu once in a while. I can't say that I had all this in mind when I set off on my bike to find elderflower. I was inspired by a lovely matt paged book called Homemade by Ros Badger and Elspeth Thompson. It features things to make each season. Being spring/summer the thing to make is elderflower cordial. What started me thinking about being a gatherer was the process of doing this. You begin to see nature differently when you are looking for something in it. Its not just a background to your activities it is your activities. The book said that I needed 10 flower heads. The flower heads were high up, this would require a tool, a forked twig was employed for the job of pulling down the branches. 10 flower heads in the bag and a conversation with some nearby goats later I set off back towards home. But it wasn't in the same vein as usual. I stopped my bike three times along the way. One was to pick some more flowers from a much healthier looking crop I spotted closer to home. The next to cut some beautiful white lilac to go in a vase and the third at the local shops to buy further supplies for my brew. All mixed up and sat for 48 hours under a cloth in the pantry it could turn our tasting really bad but that probably doesn't matter too much. Life's enjoyment is most probably directly proportional to the amount of effort you put into it. Modern day life aims to make everything easier, more convenient. You can pick up any nationalities food processed and packaged from a supermarket shelf. If this was all so great why does it always feel so fulfilling when you do things like bake a cake and it comes out roughly cake like, travel to get something you really want to eat, walk miles and suck on an orange at the top of a hill? Our memories aren't made up of things like, "Do you remember that time we went to the shop and bought a packet of Findus crispy pancakes (other crispy pancakes available). Aren't memories often made up of the times we inconvenienced ourselves and really felt the glow of our efforts.

Oxfam fundraising group

Have got involved in the start up of an Oxfam group in the local area. It was nice to have the odd trip to Manchester to take part in their events but will be even better to be involved in something closer to home. The other ladies (for we are all women so far) seem really nice with a good mix of skills. Hopefully the more strategic organised ones will help keep my creative feet on the ground. We decided to keep the committee to about 5 people to make sure it manageable and at the last meeting there were about 3 places left. We also decided that there may be folks out there who want to get involved but not so intensely. With this in mind we need to make it easy for people to help out at specific events or just keep up to date with what we are up to. Ideas flying around thus far are sports challenges, tea parties, fashion shows, geocaching events etc etc etc, the list goes on and on. So if anybody reading this fancies a challenge to help make the world a better place drop me an e mail

Walk the world

25 May 2010

Starvation diet T shirts-help needed

I want to create a starvation diet T shirt. It will have drawn on it the outline of a woman my age who is starving. This will help draw the direct comparison between me as a healthy, lucky eater and another person who is starving. Trouble is I'm finding it really hard to find statistics on the size of a starving woman. Grizzly stats I know but they must be out there somewhere.

Another 4 pounds floats off into the ether

11.7 Pounds is the new weigh in. Will post it to the weigh in maps here soon.

That is another 4 pounds lost since last time. Need to refocus somehow though on the other side of the coin, those starving. As I loose more weight I am getting a bit more self focused. My feet look like the feet of an old lady. See there I go again, self obsessed.

Getting up whimpy's hill

There is a hill near to us which the kids tell me is called Whimpy's hill because some kids were once playing on go kart's on it and anyone who failed to go down was called a whimp. I don't know if that is really how it got its name but I like the idea that young people can have an affect on naming things which everybody then assimilates into their language about an area. So, as you can guess its a pretty steep hill. Going down it I almost whoop and think that if I was brave enough I could spread out my arms and take off. Probably would just spread out my arms and very rapidly spread out myself and bike across the tarmac but its a nice fantasy. The great thing about Whimpy's hill however is that it allows me to see that I am getting fitter. I go up it on my bike at least once a week. Before I'd go up it and still be heavy breathing when I got home now I get to the top and am hardly out of breath. Before I used to avoid Whimpy's hill now it heralds a minor victory over my aversion to physically pushing myself. Knitting today so encounter with the hill on the cards. Will take a picture and post it.

24 May 2010


I find that I can wear shorts this summer without squinting critically at my legs. Now I am just squinting critically at all the detritus which seems to be on my studio floor.

21 May 2010

Big Pizza, feel sick

Allowed myself to be convinced into getting a 12 inch meat feast pizza for me and George. After two pieces thought, "Full now". But it seems that an open pizza box is still an empty pizza box. George set in for his last piece. "I could leave my last piece" I thought. But no. Feel sick now. Not guilty though. Just think I've learnt my lesson. Stop. Have it tomorrow for dinner have it for breakfast just don't jam it in when you are already full up. In the words of my mothers weight watchers inspired mantra "don't use yourself as a dustbin.".

15 May 2010

I need a Nurse

I need a nurse or some other qualified individual to tell me where the measuring points should be for the Choke and Rope Technique. Once they have marked them on I'm off to the tatoo parlor to have them marked on. If you are such a qualified person and want to help out please let me know either through a comment here or by e mailing me at

Weight Watchers and Slimming World e mail replies to Starvation Diet

I wrote an e mail to Weight Watchers and Slimming World. I'll post the e mail I sent and their full replies soon. They declined to be involved in the Starvation Diet project or let Starvation Diet inhabit a place in their work. My aim is to provide a less self centred way of losing weight. I really want to work in partnership with as many organisations and people as possible. If organisations dealing with the same issues don't want to work with me where does that leave me in relation to them. Are we enemies, are we co-habiting or should we just ignore each other?

Weight watchers has an unmoderated forum which I have been into once or twice. When I go in and comment I feel like an intruder, a hacker a spy. In actual fact I am non of these things I'm just another human being with an opinion. I was challenged the other day by a person who asked if I had just gone in to promote my blog. I commented that yes in a way I had. This weight watchers forum is a place where people interested in diet go to. If I have something which is working for me and helping others less fortunate too would I be remiss to stay away and keep quite about it? I shiver when I start to talk like this sometimes though because it sounds so much like evangelistic religion and we generally hate all that in Britain. I don't want to be an advertiser or an Evangelist but I do want maximum benefit from things I do for the maximum number of people. How you achieve that is still one to work out.

The trouble with diets

The thing which prompts most of us to diet is a certain amount of self loathing. I hate my belly, my bum looks big in this, I'm such a fat cow. All common phrases which populate our thinking on the brink of a bout of dieting. So it is with this travel bag of negative thoughts that we set off on our journey of deprivation. And we carry on down the path for several steps, noting no difference, falling over and ending up with our face in a cheescake or stumbling mouth open into a bag of chips. Each time we fall down the bag of negative thoughts gets bigger and heavier until we say "sod it, I'm not that fat really, I'm giving up" or "I'll always be fat, whats the point."

How does the process I've been through recently differ a bit. I think I started with a realistic picture of myself, I wasn't bad or gross or weak willed just a bit too fat. The journey started with an idea to do good for others, that was my main focus for at least the first few months. I had a few blips where I got a little self obsessesed but mainly I didn't notice the weight loss or not. I did notice the money growing in the pot and that made me feel good about myself because I was doing good. All this got me over those first few months when ordinarily I would have been wondering about if it was worth it and no doubt giving up. Now that I have started to see changes I have the double motivation. I have a small pair of jeans I'm refusing to take back to the shop. I'm sure that one day they will be less tight.

World Food Programme new vid

As I signed up to bloggers against hunger I was asked to blog this. Did I miss something or is there another mothers day? I guess not and that somewhere else in the world its mothers day at a different time than ours. Has got me thinking that next mothers day I won't wait for my son to bring me breakfast in bed or buy me a present but instead we will think about what we could do to help other mothers who have to decide each day; "Do I eat or does my child?" That must be a heart breaking decision. You know that if you die your child will very likely not survive but how could you just let that little life so connected to you slip away in your arms.

Not seen you for a while

Its nice to see people you haven't seen in a while. It was doubly nice yesterday because two people I'd not seen for a few months completely unprompted (honest) commented on how much weight I'd lost. One said something like, "Its not like you were a fat bloater before but you look like you've lost loads". The other I tapped on the shoulder in a shop and had a moment where she didn't recognise me. She said that she hadn't known if it was me at first site and that now I had bone structure in my face which was hidden before. This was a person I spent two weeks sharing a barn with so no stranger. These people, seen less often can see the change more markedly than those who see one every day or every week. All this is really good for the old self esteem but more than that It allows me to show that this change of mind and attitude inherent in the process really does work. The loss is not just happening because I use different scales each time, am rubbish measuring in the choke and rope technique, or due to dress sizes suddenly getting more generous. I look in the mirror I see a difference but people noticing makes It more real. The amount of money growing in my just giving pot bears testimony to the fact that I have resisted over £170 worth of non needed food. Its at this point of a usual diet that you might think GOAL WEIGHT I'll have a cake now and another and another and before you know it end up at your past weight again. But somehow I don't think I can allow that to happen. Firstly because its still the same arguments, I don't need it but somebody else does. Secondly as I have set this up as such a public endeavour and experiment it would be impossible to let it slip without debasing the whole project. Thirdly, while I may well be at a goal weight I'm not yet at my £10,000 giving target, by my reckoning that will take until I'm about 80 years old.

How to Live a Simple Life

On the tele last night was a programme following a vicar who is experimenting with living a money free life. I don't believe in God but I do believe in a lot of the sentiments which were in the programme and are the best parts of religious belief. In Last nights programme Vicar Peter Owen Jones set off moneyless and foodless to travel to the home of environmentalist Shatish Kumar(Editor of a really thought provoking and dense magazine called Resurgence). Along the way he lived according to the teachings of St Francis, he was not allowed to handle money and had to survive by asking people to buy food, a train fare and give him lifts and a place to stay. This was an effort to be less self sufficient, less of an island from others, humble himself, rid himself of ego and give people the opportunity to be generous. Throughout the programme there were lots of discussions with folks about how the thrust of modern life has been to make ourselves non dependant on each other. This is something I am really aware of. Each of us sitting in our island, sometimes lonely, never being able to just step out and have a chat or give spontaneously of our time. Keeping our eyes on the ground at bus stops in case somebody tries to talk to us or never entertaining the idea of a bus because then we would have to share our transport. All encased in our homes with everything we need and no way of getting rid of what we don't need bar throwing it in the bin. I have also at times been aware of the positive feeling I have had when I have allowed myself to be vulnerable or needy and rely on the generosity of others. This often happens to me during an art activity.

When I worked on an flattened site in Blackburn I used to sit with another artist doing art type activities. Neither of us drove so we couldn't buy lots of materials and bring them to the site. I needed some boxes so went to see the local shop keeper. His house and shop sat on the edge of the site then but has probably been demolished by now(The Picture above is of the shop, The Owner and his son watcing the film we produced with their help). That little need and an explanation of why we needed it led to him offering us cups of tea, biscuits, stories, a necklace which I still have, friendship and use of his house toilet throughout our stay. It made me feel amazed, full of warmth, gave me a fresh sense of what lovely things people are capable of.

During the first few weeks of Starvation Diet myself and a friend had a conversation about personal ownership and the things we use very rarely but feel that we need, we started a list which included scales, a shoe shine kit and a ladder. After this conversation I decided to only weigh myself on other people's scales in their houses and only use each scale once. I also need to get to the scales under my own steam. This requires a certain amount of trust on the givers part, and on my part the ability to do something I find really hard, to ask for a favour and be less independent, I am by nature a pretty independent type. Its amazing how hard this is for us, having to ask for things sets us apart from most other people who can live without ever needing each other, live with the common understanding that cash normally given in a shop will get you things. One of the people I asked for the use of a scales very generously offered me a spare set of scales she had in her garage. I could have taken it and become scales self sufficient again. It would have made the project a lot more comfortable and I would not have been facing the fact that at some point I am going to run out of friends who live close by and will have to ask strangers, neighbours or people further from home. But by accepting the kind offer I'd be back in my house, removed, never needing to put on my boots and walk or get on my bike and ride. Never needing to ask anybody and have them look at me as if I am more than a bit strange. However this process allows for wonderfully unexpected acts of kindness. I was amazed again the other day when at my knitting group one of the ladies gave me her key to go into her house and use her scales and when another lady who has just had open heart surgery offered me the use of her scales and an afternoon cup of tea. It brings a tear to my eye to think of the generosity which can be elicited and is lurking just beyond societies fear and cynicism.

4 May 2010

Average commute

What would it take to make the slower, shorter, positive eventful commute a reality for everybody who wants it? The image shows my commute from my bed, via the forest and back to my office in the spare room, am I lucky or do I just make choices to make it that way? Could everybody make different choices? Does anybody want to make different choices?