Fun at the SLF

What a huge weekend! 

On Friday, I helped man the ATA stall at the Sustainable Living Festival.  It was a great morning, and so many people were after information about renewable energy.  I met so many interesting people who were contemplating a Solar PV installation or had just ordered one.  I let each one know about what Renewable Energy Certificates were all about, and my personal experiences with generating my own electricity.

Whilst at the stand, I met Anita who is a regular reader.  She goes by the blogger title of the bayside gardener.  What a lovely lady.  We talked about all sorts of things for simply ages, and she loves my chickpea and potato curry.  Well, Anita, that makes lots of us now!  It was great to meet you in person.

It was a great morning of non stop talking.  I then took a lunch break and wandered over to meet Mavea who was giving her talk about her journey across the Northwest Passage with her hubby Peter.  Here is Mavea giving her talk.  Not a very good photo, because some bloke popped his head in the shot at the last second. 

She gave a great talk, and even did very animated actions on stage.  It was very entertaining, but with a powerful message regarding this part of the world.  It is changing so rapidly from the effects of Climate Change, that it is hard to imagine that we can slow down the juggernauts of industry from polluting in time.

My green mate Jen met me at Mavea’s presentation, and we all had lunch together.  It was Hari Krishna food for me again this year, and very tasty it was.  After lunch, Jen had to go, and Mavea and I went to a presentation about the 12 steps to a successful Transition Town.  It was presented by a very energetic lady called Cara Sandys.  We struck up a conversation before her talk, and she mentioned that she makes jewellery, but the reason she was in Melbourne, is because she helping set up a Transition Town in Southampton, UK.  I told her that my wife Kim was from Sholing in Southampton, and quite a few relatives still live there (Hello Pam, Jane & Paul).  The great unleashing will be held in their Summer on the Common.  We learnt a lot from her, and it made me think about what I could do in the Melton area.  I have a lunch next Wednesday with three of my local Council employees who work in the Sustainability dept.  I will ask them if they think this town is ready for something as big as a Transition Town.  I think the time is ripe for action!

After swapping contact details with Cara, I said goodbye to Mavea, and went back to the ATA stall for a while.  Later on in the afternoon, I took another break and sat in on a presentation by a lady called Nola from the CWA.  Her talk was about Preserving food, and like all good urban farmers, I could use the advice.  She was an absolute wealth of knowledge, and I learnt about the different fruits that have high, medium and low pectin levels and that with a simple test you can determine if you have to add lemon juice to your jam to make it set.  She was very funny, and reminded me of my Nana (bless her).  Here is Nola with her preserves.

Her jams had the most brilliant colours to them, and I bet they tasted fantastic.  After much worldly advice (I could have listened to her for ages), there was a prize draw.  I just happened to be sitting on a seat with a dot under it, so I won a copy of the CWA Victoria Cookery Book.  It has some fantastic, yet simple recipes in it.  So much knowledge in one little book.  The book contains many recipes from the original 1933 version, and are converted into metric.  It would make a fantastic present for young adults just leaving home.  I will treasure it always. 

At about 1700, I decided to brave the traffic and venture home again.  I called Kim on the way home, and told her that it would be nice if Ben and I had a father and son day at the festival.  She thought it was a great idea, and she could rest at home in peace!

On Saturday morning, I managed to convince Ben that it was a good idea to go on the train to the festival.  He wasn’t too fussed and wanted to stay at home with Mum.  Just an excuse to play computer games all day.  I stood firm and dragged him off to the train station at about 0930.  Ben was very excited when we were waiting for the train.  I was glad, because I just wanted to enjoy our day together.

We had a great chat on the train and talked about all the cool things we might see there at Federation Square.  We arrived at Southern Cross station at about 1020, and caught an Electric train to Flinders Street.  Just across the road was the Festival, and Ben was even more excited. 

The first thing he dragged me to was the Future Spark Power trailer.  It was basically 16 bikes hooked up to generators that fed a grid tied inverter that fed surplus electricity into the grid.  Here is Ben peddling for the planet!


Somehow he got it into his head that we were providing electricity for the entire festival.  Well, in a way we were.  Ben wanted to specifically power the band that was in a big red double decker bus.  He thought that was great.

The set up of the trailer was very cool.  Here is one of the generators that the rear wheel of the bike spun around.


We came back to the bikes four times during the day, and even though there is no photo to prove it, Dad peddled for the planet as well!  At one stage there were 10 riders and we were producing about 650 watts.  It just goes to show how little energy we humans can produce with our own two legs.  Give me Solar PV any day!

We then quickly rushed of to say gidday to Mavea and to meet Peter.  We chatted for a while and vowed to keep in touch.  Ben was a little bored during their talk, but I kept him interested in by translating into kids speak for him.  He got the gist of the presentation and he even had a chat to Mavea after her talk.  Mavea asked Ben how the chickens were, and that she thought that his paint job on their house was wonderful.  Now where did she get that information, I wonder.

After saying goodbye, Ben informed me that he wanted an icecream, so off we went to the Timboon fine icecream van.  A single chocolate cone kept him busy, but it was off to the bikes again.  My legs were beginning to get sore.

I then has a veggie curry with rice and wolfed that down, as it was now time to go on the playground.  Fed Square has quite a good little playground and he found some kids his own age and mucked around for a while.  After about half an hour, it was back to the bikes again, and then off to the veggie burger stand.  Ben asked specifically for a veggie burger, so who was I to deny him one.  Whilst standing in line, we saw the smoothy lady on her bike.

She said that she thought that Ben’s T-shirt was cool, and he said thanks.   After his veggie burger (of which I ate the lettuce), he decided it was time he took some of the photos.  Here are a few of Ben’s shots.


Thanks son, nice photos.  I think he has a thing for washing dishes.

Back to the stalls again, but along the way a helicopter whale ate my son!


Then it was back through the crowd, stopping every now and then to explain what different things were and meant, and then it was off to the train station to catch our ride home. 

We just missed the train and had to wait for an hour at Sunshine station.  Luckily I had my iPod touch with me, so Ben played a few games, and I read some of the brochures that I had collected at the SLF.  After an uneventful trip home, Kim was waiting for us.  I think she missed us both.  Ben and I had a fantastic time, and he said it was the best day ever!  Hard to beat, I reckon.

For dinner, I decided to cook a vegetable curry.  I will post the recipe later on in the week, as it was the best green vegetable curry I have ever made or tasted.  I had a basic recipe from somewhere on the web, but as usual, I modified it quite a bit based on my taste buds quest for new flavours.

We all crashed at about 2130, because I had a busy Sunday ahead of me.

Sunday was hectic.  I rose at 0630, made a cup of herbal and sat down to right a list. 

  • Finish ATA report – 3 hours
  • Clean Chook house – 30 min
  • Make plum sauce, pesto, and pasta sauce – 3 hours
  • Clean up corn bed – 30 min
  • Stir Compost bins – 10 min
  • Write Post about SLF – 1.5 hours
  • Do a workout – 1 hour
  • Make a cheese press – 1 hour
  • Cook a nice dinner – 1 hour

So that adds up to about 11.5 hours of work.  I was never going to get it all done, so I had to prioritise.  This is what I managed to get done in bold, and the real time it took!  Everything took twice as long as I estimated.  It is always the way, isn’t it.

  • Finish ATA report – 6 hours
  • Clean Chook house & bag up chook litter – 2 hours
  • Make plum sauce, pesto, and pasta sauce – 3 hours
  • Clean up corn bed – 30 min
  • Stir Compost bins & clean up veggie patch – 1 hour
  • Write Post about SLF – 1.5 hours
  • Do a workout – 1 hour
  • Make a cheese press – 1 hour
  • Cook a nice dinner – 1 hour

As you can see, still a few things to do on the list.  I better write a new list with the stuff I still have to get done.

I did the workout and garden work in the morning, and finished off the report in the afternoon.  We had a simple dinner of oven fries and chicken, with some salad.  I couldn’t be buggered cooking anything.

Well that was my weekend.  I had a great time with Ben, and was very proud of finally finishing my report.  I have sent it in for assessment, and hopefully it will be OK.  I intend to present it to the staff at the ATA some time in the next week.  That should be fun, and may be the start of something magical!



  1. says

    Hi All.

    @ Margaret. It was great to meet other bloggers, an just about everyone at the festival knew where I was at! Next time I am in the UK, I will make it a point to look you up!

    @Sadge. As discussed, Not my day. I would appreciate more tactful approach next time.

    @ Anita. It was fantastic to meet you in person. Thanks for the praise, I was just being me! I have boycotted the show for about 20 years now, due to crowds and consumerism, but I think I might just go to see the animals and the CWA stand!

    @ Julie. Thanks for your concern mate. Would you believe I had a bit of a turn this morning regarding my back, but it is getting better quickly. A hydrotherapy session tomorrow morning will fix it right up.

    @ MrsG. It was a shame I didn’t meet you. I was actually standing outside of the tent when the presentation was on for the 100 mile diet! We missed each other by a few metres. Ben dragged me away to the bikes!

    @ Nevyn. It was a great couple of days. I was exhausted after the sencond go, but Ben insisted that we keep the band powered!

    @ Sarhn. I think that it was about 60 watts per person at a steady pace, so that would be about 60 watt hours for each bike. If you could ride for 5 hours that would be enough energy to power the average PC for 3 hours or a laptop for 12 hours. Have a look at Future Spark for more info.

  2. says

    Brilliant bost as always Gav.

    I am really interested in learning more about the power bikes.

    Do you know roughly how much peddling one person could generate in one hour?

    I have often thought gyms sould install something like this.

    I also think it is a good idea if a family wants to get fit, to install a bike to the TV power. No peddling = no TV.

    Do you know if they sell the bikes Gav?

  3. says

    It sounds like an amazing day. I think I would have passed out from exhaustion on the 2nd trip back to the bikes.

    I hope that one day events like that will be held in regional areas.

  4. says

    I was going to get to the Festival on Friday but had to work late. Managed to get in on Saturday morning for the talk on the 100 mile diet but would have loved to catch the CWA one on Preserves too.
    What a great festival and wealth of knowledge just there for everyone to soak up!!

  5. says

    Phew! Makes me exhausted just reading about your weekend!! Glad to hear you were just busy – I was worried you’d done your back in or something again when you didn’t post anywhere all weekend :-)

  6. says

    Great to meet you too Gavin. Your writing style is as friendly as you are. What a day. Melbourne is such a fantastic city and it was at its best on friday. Sorry to have missed to C.W.A. talk on preserves. My favourite stall at the Melbourne Show is the C.W.A. stand. There’s something about the mayonnaise they make with sweetened condensed milk for their sandwiches. It’s also the only place you can get a decent cup of tea (starting to sound like nana!). Made chili jam on Sunday with my tomato glut. Fantastic with scrambled eggs, grills or an avocardo sandwich. Preserving your own harvest is so satisfying.

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