Tag Archives: environment

Power Off weekend, March 20-21st / Spring Equinox

Turn the power off for 48 hours and enjoy a mini holiday at home with friends, games and traditional entertainment, cooking over a fire maybe.

sausages cooking on the open fire



Prepare yourself for a sudden ‘crisis’ by enjoying one of these Power Off Weekends, be prepared, save money and reduce your carbon footprint, whilst having fun again.

You will love being free of the internet, electric gadgets, work, noise and chores and instead breath a sigh of relief. Some of it may be challenging but we love challenges, right? Especially when only for a weekend. Give it a go, this March 20-21st, which coincides with the Equinox, start of Spring.

Playing games by candle light - like being children again

See all the posts on our Touchwood Project blog about the Power Off weekends – the radio interview clips, photos, 101 things to do without electricity and some feedback from people who tried it. Click on the yellow Power Off logo:

48 hours without electricity - adventure in your own home!







To sign up for the event, see more pictures or just support us, even if you cannot do it this time around, it is best to go to the Facebook Events, Group and Page. Three separate places on Facebook, which confuses me but if you go to the Events page and RSPV to attend, your name will be counted and we will be able to include you in pre-weekend information, questionnaires and tips.

Power Off Event – Facebook

If you join the group on Facebook we will know you support the idea – as too if you become a ‘fan’ on the Power Off Weekends Page. Please do all three – and let us know you care.

Power Off Weekend Group – Facebook

Power Off Weekends Page – Facebook

One more picture, from the mid-winter Power Off weekend:

Reading by natural daylight, keeping warm, enjoying life - flow


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How to make Scallop Shell oil lamps using only natural materials

Today, in the spirit of being frugal and eco-friendly, I am going to show you how to make your own lamp using only natural materials.

[Note from Rachel: These also make great presents, so this is Part 4 of my Frugal and Green Christmas Gift series, on the Touchwood Project website. You can find all the projects by clicking on this tag: Christmas.]

Decorating the fireplace for Christmas

Decorating the fireplace for Christmas

This I believe to be one of the earliest of human inventions and in all honesty, it is superior to the man-made, metal equivalent.

For one thing the parts are white and shiny, so reflect more light. For another there are many flutes thus allowing multiple wicks and thus variable brightness (the world’s first ‘dimmer switch’). Oh, and they are free, recyclable and beautiful.

Continue reading

101 Things to do without electricity / Malcolm’s Childhood :)

When I was a kid I was amazed how many people assumed you needed to buy the game to play it, not realising that often you just need pencil and paper. They’d rather buy some tacky plastic game or watch TV than make their own fun! I’m of the play-it-on-paper or build-your-own-game tribe.

Since the Power Off Weekend is just around the corner, 12-13 December, 2009, here are 101 things to do with your friends and loved ones — all without electricity:

http://www.touchwoodproject.com/101-things-to-do-without-electricity/ (This link takes you to my other blog and the full text).

Oh, and for me talking on BBC Radio Orkney about the Power Off Weekend, click here:

http://www.touchwoodproject.com/power-off-weekend-bbc-radio-orkney-interview/

Give me pencil, paper, a ball and some friends, and I will be late for supper, no matter how old I am!

The Orkney Dream – DAY TWO – by Joanna Tinsley

It was 8oC and it was hammering it down. Yet here I was, fully gortexed-up, barefoot on a beach on Orkney and heading for the sea. After a lifetime of stomping about the countryside in hiking boots, walking barefoot is a strange, but bizarrely enjoyable, experience. “Walking barefoot is a metaphor for how we should treat our environment,” explained our guide for the day, Malcolm Handoll from Five Senses, who had just persuaded us to throw off our socks and shoes and head down to the rocky, seaweed-covered beach in the rain. “It teaches you to tread carefully and engage with nature rather than trample all over it.” It also teaches you that that’s no stranger sensation than feeling bubbles of bladderwrack between your toes and, more conclusively, that when you’re at a latitude parallel with St Petersburg, the sea is painfully cold.

Back in the house, our numb feet began to thaw as we wrapped our hands around a mug of hot tea and watched as Malcolm demonstrated how the Neolithic people of Orkney made fire. After a quick lesson, which was interrupted when a hen harrier hovered inches from the window (wildlife always finds you when you’re least expecting it), it was our turn to create nature’s more basic yet elusive element.

First we constructed a tinder nest by tying a tight knot of dried grass, thumbing it out into a cup-shape and lining it with cotton grass. We then crouched over a long, flat piece of wood with an indentation and a notch, while Malcolm wound a wooden spindle into a primitive bow made from a branch and a rope. I clamped the wood with my newly-thawed foot, steadied the spindle with my left hand (using two limpet shells as a bearing) and held the bow with my right, while my friend Rachel grasped the other end of the bow. The idea was to push and pull the bow, thus spinning the spindle and creating enough friction to generate heat. It was trickier than it looked, but after a few wobbly attempts we saw smoke – lovely thick curls of smoke as the charred dust fell onto a piece of goat skin under the notch. After letting this smoke happily away to itself for a few minutes we gingerly tipped the embers into our tinder nests. Cupping our hands around our nests we then blew gently until the smoke grew thicker and a orange glow appeared. “This is it,” whispered Malcolm, “now take one deep breath and blow gently at first, then harder…” We did as we were told and within seconds were holding our very own flaming ball of fire in our hands. It was a truly a magical moment, exhilarating but a little bit scary. After much whooping we dropped the flaming nest and extinguished our handiwork in one quick step. Strangely satisfied, we were left babbling and smiley and smelling nicely of campfires.

Visit www.allfivesenses.com or wait for the August issue of the magazine to find read more…

Sat, 02/05/2009 – 23:42

Submitted by Joanna Tinsley

Go to BBC Countryfile Blog for more of Joanna’s adventures in Orkney.

Can Gordon Brown play chess?

We know Russians are good at playing chess – and this encourages strategic thinking.

We know our politicians are becoming more dependent upon focus groups, media moods and swing voters.

Are our politicians doing the job we pay them to do, looking after the complex strategic issues of economy, defense, security, energy, environment – issues beyond our own personal control and influence? What smart plans do they have? Or are they so focused on the short term worries of re-election? Maybe the roll of energy governance should be with Whitehall, as interest rates are with the Bank of England?

You cannot win at chess against grand masters by only looking a couple of moves ahead. It is not poker! So too in world affairs. Our politicians need to stop watching their backs and start watching the future!

Energy, water, food, housing, health, global warming, security, war … these are all the fundamentals of survival yet they threaten us now in our affluent world.

What kind of miss-management is this? Have we become so lazy, so over confident and careless as to squander our wealth? Or are our politicians playing games with us, the electorate? I used to think they were smart but now I am not so sure. I now tend to think of them as overpaid.

What is our energy policy? When are we going to seriously reduce energy waste and over consumption of this scarce, expensive and politically sensitive stuff? In times of crisis we grew our own food, mined our energy and worked for the common good. We pulled together. So where is the message now to tighten our belts, reduce waste, be more self-sufficient and frugal, as a nation? Lead from the top Gordon, or leave the stage. We have a job to do.

If you cannot play chess – don’t pretend you can. Even little Harry Potter knew that! Independence and self determination nationally require smart, strategic thinking. If you mess up with Russia you end up cap in hand to the US. Oh I forgot, we already did that, TB.

The way out of the present economic slowdown is not to encourage growth, consumerism, housing capitalism and a binge party! Take the message of frugality, common interest and reduced consumption to the people! We don’t want more energy – we want better use of less energy! We don’t want higher house prices – we want higher living standards for all! We don’t want Big Brother – we want good governance, of our affairs. And we must demand this of our politicians – we employ them!

Anyone who thinks private enterprise is an efficient method for the provision of basic human needs – water, food, air, fuel, shelter, health, security – need only look at the world to see it is not. Look beyond capitalism and profit – use our brains to improve the world, not just struggle to slow the decay. We can do better!

Stop messing about with world religions (and clinging on to neo-conservative visions of a new world order) and thus fueling hatred (which is convenient for the war mongers, see blog) and get on with the basics. It is clearly too much for you to manage much else.

That is this morning’s rant out of the way, now I can proceed with the day sure in the knowledge that although this is public (I feel better getting it off my chest), no one will actually read it (and embarrass my naivety). Ahh, the world of blogging!

🙂

What they are saying about Five Senses in Orkney, Scotland

Following yesterday’s post about attention to detail, here are some quotes from testimonials, feedback and letters of thanks, posted to me at Five Senses, here in Orkney, Scotland. I was preparing to put them up on the website but they also seem appropriate for the current blog theme, so excuse the praise and read the detail – it is all about the detail. [Italics and bold added by me].

Malcolm of Five Senses with Stinging Nettles

Malcolm of Five Senses with Stinging Nettles

What is being said about Five Senses:

(See also The Scotsman Newspaper article)

Guests write:

“We cannot say enough about Malcolm and Rachel of Five Senses Tours. We had a great tour of the Highlands and Orkney and saw and experienced so much more than we would have on our own. Tailored to our needs and flexible, educational and fun! I can still taste the local food and drink!

***

“I want to thank you for the day my daughter and I spent with you. Your tour was quite remarkable.

The Five Senses Tour experience certainly engaged all our sense, as promised, but it did more. It engaged our minds. As a guide you presented us with the tactile, olfactory, aural (I shall never forget the acoustics at the Stones of Stenness), and visual feasts, along with a terrific lunch. But you also asked us to consider what we saw, not to take it on face value. Too often a tour will tell you what the experts say and leave it at that. With Five Senses, you offered us competing theories and then you asked us what we thought, what we saw. I left enriched and excited…and my brain was wonderfully full.

Would that all tours were that wonderful.”

***

“‘Twas the most memorable experience of my two weeks holiday in Ireland and Scotland…”

***

“Just spent three amazing days in the Orkney Islands with the wonderful couple from Five Senses of Scotland. Learnt firelighting with a handmade wooden bowdrill, explored ancient sites – including singing and drumming inside a stone tomb until we found a pitch that caught its natural frequency and amplified our quietest voices many fold – hiked and camped through the lush island of Hoy, drinking delicious fresh water from a rippling stream, while learning to navigate with a compass, and sharing an old stone bothy with passing hikers and a roaring fire (and much more).

If you want to immerse yourself in the land and culture of the Orkney Islands, I would highly recommend this group. Both Malcolm and Rachel are deeply friendly and caring about the people they work with and the land and work it self.”

***

“Thank you very much for giving us such a fantastic time, so much information, new skills and much food for thought, so, in a way it was an intellectual experience too!”

***

“Just want to say how fantastic the new Orkney Experience was. You are both such an inspiration.

Malcolm you are a talented person with such a special gift to see the world in all its wonder and be amazed. Thanks for sharing it.

Rachel, thanks too, for sharing your smile, warmth and sincerity.”

***

“Thank you again for such a memorable day!”

***

“I have arrived home from my wonderful vacation to Scotland and Ireland. What an amazing adventure it was! I wanted to thank you for hosting such a wonderful day in Kirkwall. It was so nice to be shown around by someone who truly loves their country and enjoys sharing this joy with others. I will be posting your contact information on the Cruise Critic web site. Perhaps a few cruise tours here and there may be helpful to you. Please stay in touch and let me know how your business plans are going. If there is anything I can do to promote All Five Senses on my end please let me know.

Again, thank you for a wonderful day.”

***

“Thank you for an absolutely brilliant evening yesterdayEllie hasn’t stopped talking about it since. We have tonight made fire at Birsay and even demonstrated
it to someone else.

Thanks again.”

Making fire by friction - using your senses

Making fire by friction - using your senses

“What an outstanding, thoughtful, insightful and unusual introduction to Orkney. Including tea on your fabulous sun porch was an added bonus!!

Thanks so much for a wonderful day.”

***

“We cannot thank Five Senses enough for our trip to Orkney and beyond, we saw and learned far more than we thought we would and ten times what we would have it we had done it on our own. Our only regret is not having more time. What probably sums it up the best is what happened at the Inverness airport, as we were leaving and they asked how many of us where flying we answered “six”, to which the seven year-old replied “yeah, six, we’re short one now”.”

***

“Well, I’m home now and looking back, the day spent with you in Orkney was the highlight of my trip. Thank you so much for sharing your stories, the fire-making and the special magic of Orkney.

It was such a blessing to meet you and to feel welcomed by your spirit to these ancient sacred places. I will always look back on that day with gratitude.”

Burnside cottage, Rackwick, Island of Hoy, Orkney

Burnside cottage, Rackwick, Island of Hoy, Orkney

And there is more …

“It’s an amazing place; however, this can only really be appreciated if you do it with Five Senses. Out of all of the experiences that we had on our trip to the UK, meeting Malcolm and his wife Rachel and going to all of these ancient places and learning so much was the highlight of the trip. Not to mention actually being able to touch a part of the past.”

***

“We had a picnic with Malcolm on the last day in this field of heather. I still to this day remember what the food tasted like. It was incredible — we can definitely say that we experienced Orkney with all five senses. Not to mention we now know a lot of survival techniques that we learned from Malcolm while visiting Orkney.”

***

“Touring the island with Malcolm was truly a five sense experience. He not only introduced us to the topographical, geological and spiritual aspects of the environment, he and his lovely wife, Rachel, made us feel like family – one well worth a return trip.”

***

“Having used Five Senses I have to say that the quality of interaction with the children, the content of the experience, and the high motivation factor were all really impressive.

So much was this the case that I have booked a half day for my own school to launch our Fuel and Power Topic with a spark! Several other of the commonly used cross-curricular, science- or history-based Topics in Primary would be greatly augmented by such an experience as we had, especially several involving past civilisations or prehistory, or those considering materials and their properties.

The level was right, the risk assessment and health and safety issues were addressed, the personnel were SO enthusiastic and engaged the children without exception and for the whole duration of the afternoon. The children worked as a team eagerly, each having hands-on experience and all gaining so much knowledge, in theory and in practice, about materials, past times, the creation and maintenance of fire, its significance to various times, cultures and peoples, its dangers and safe management.

I have no hesitation in recommending colleagues to take a look at what these people have to offer.”

Limpets are survival food

Limpets are survival food

***

“Planting a naked foot on a board, Malcolm used a bow and hazel ‘drill’ to create flame. Even in these hi-tech days fire still has a magical power to thrill.

These are experiences the children will never forget. Science is all about seeing, enjoying, discovering, trying things out – and, sometimes, being so enthralled by a moment that it changes the way someone thinks for ever.”

Fire Making Class with Malcolm

Fire Making Class with Malcolm

***

“Five Senses showed our family of 4 plus my sister and her husband around for a week. It was incredible. The highlight of 3 weeks in the UK – and we plan to return. We could not have seen 1/3 of what we saw without Malcolm. It was not a “okay so look at this for 20 seconds” type event. Malcolm asked us all kinds of questions for weeks before we arrived. Once there, he learned more about us — and surprised us with a stop off at a rare breed sheep farm, as well as a combination wool shop / bookstore, to satisfy all 6 of us. I would highly recommend Malcolm and Five Senses to anyone. It is not costly when you realize how much you end up doing, seeing and experiencing.

We shall be back”.

***

“The rest of our trip was nice but we really feel the highlight was the week we spent with you and can’t stop talking about it. Kudos to you Malcolm”.