All posts by Jo

Homeopath, forager, chemist, networker interested in many other diverse things like the sharing economy, travel, science, botany, green energy, mindfulness, reading, sewing and more.

Living Danishly

I first came across Helen Russell’s book The Year of Living Danishly in my local library. Her experiences of immersing herself in a very different climate and culture are at times amusing, enlightening and will almost certainly make you reassess your priorities. I cannot listen to Barry White now without conjuring up memories of her tale of a Danish swimming pool session!

As a child I spent many summers in Denmark so have fond memories of my trips over there. My dad (now 86) went to stay with a Danish family as a teenager on a school exchange and kept in touch with them. One of the daughters from that family came to visit last month which prompted me to re-read the book and write this blog.

This is a talk Helen did for the wonderful people Action for Happiness.. and includes a Q and A session at the end. So grab a coffee, a pastry and watch this curled up on a comfy sofa to get a slice of Danish hygge.

Timebanking on the radio

I was interviewed a while ago by a reporter from Stray FM about the Settle Timebank. I have blogged about this elsewhere but thought I’d post it here too as I will be talking more about community projects on this blog now.

Timebanking is a simple skill swap scheme and everyone’s time is equal. All sorts of jobs are done within the Timebank and most are simple ‘good neighbourly’ tasks like pet feeding, help with shopping, tiny sewing or DIY jobs, lifts, helping out at community events and workshops.

This interview was featured on the ‘Your County’ programme on Stray FM in association with North Yorkshire County Council and is available as a podcast. You can listen to the replay here or click on the image below.

Radio clip of Settle Timebank Interview on Stray FM

Settle Timebank

Our Timebank is a big part of what we do at the Settle Community and Business Hub that I run so thought I’d repost on here some Timebank blogs published elsewhere.

Timebanking UK are the national organisation supporting and training Timebanks and we work closely with them and are hoping to be involved in a Lottery funded project with them later in the year.

Timebanking is a skill swap scheme where everyone’s time is equal. Most things people do are ‘good neighbourly’ simple tasks and you don’t need any special skills to get involved. Whether you are helping someone with their shopping, feeding guinea pigs, assembling bookcases, delivering leaflets, gardening, helping out at community events or teaching an art class – you can earn credits for the time you spend doing these things. You can then spend your time credits on art classes, therapies, help with computers, talks and workshops and much more.

You don’t have to do direct swaps with people and this cartoon explains how it works.

The best schemes have a mix of individuals, businesses, charities, community groups and venues involved and that is what we are aiming for in Settle.

A very simple video from the Paxton Green Timebank below explaining how it all works.

We use a simple online system called Time Online 2 where you can see who is offering or wanting help, but if you don’t want to use that we can talk to you about what tasks are offered or needed. When you do a time trade you can fill in a paper slip, give it to us at the hub and we can add your hours to the system. 

To sign up you will need to give us some basic information like name, age, address and also provide email or phone numbers for two personal referees who have known you more than two years. You can register yourself at or pop in to the hub for a chat during our drop-ins and we can sign you up.

Community and Relationships

This is great short video from the Mental Health Foundation about why relationships and connections with those around you are important.

Relationships: the missing piece of the wellbeing puzzle

Simple stuff but it really is true. I am involved in various community projects and it is wonderful to see that sense of connection making such a difference to people’s lives.

Tidjane Thiam on Desert Island Discs

I love Desert Island Discs and this one with Tidjane Thiam from 2012 is probably one of the most extraordinary episodes I have ever heard.. some great songs too ranging from opera to traditional Senegalese music.

At the time Tidjane was ‘The Man at the Pru’ (he is now CEO of Credit Suisse) and amongst other things he talks about political upheaval, Yes Minister and The Archers, his fathers imprisonment, being offered the presidency of Ivory Coast, and why he took 2 suits to big meetings!

Click on the photo to hear his Desert Island Discs .. or find it here on iplayer

Intro from the Desert Island Discs website

He’s chief executive of the Prudential, but he’s about as far from the archetypal “man from the Pru” as you can get.
The seeds of his success were sown amid the complex political terrain of the Ivory Coast with an extended family heavily involved in politics and a father imprisoned for his beliefs. His life quickly took on an international flavour from West Africa to Morocco, Paris to Washington, but in his early 30s a coup in his homeland left him high and dry. He says “I had no job, no career, nothing at all. It taught me a lot about myself. If you’ve been in a situation where you have nothing there’s nothing much you’re afraid of.”

The entire archive of over 3000 Desert Island castaways is now on the BBC website and worth a browse through..


Mark Lawson talks to Gilbert and George

Gilbert and George are probably best known for their similar appearance and demeanor but you may not know much about their lives or their work.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

They have been a huge influence on many artists and musicians and are very rarely interviewed.. so it was lovely to see Mark Lawson talk to them about their lives, work and routines. Mark seemed a bit star struck and this adds a nice almost reverential air to the interview.

Well worth a watch.. and if you haven’t come across Gilbert and George before there is more on their website about them and their work – be warned – they like swear words! <a href="http://www.gilbertandgeorge acheter viagra pharmacie” target=”_blank”>

Dodgy Money and Good Banks

Many people do not really think about where their money goes when they put their wages in a bank. High street banks often support, loan money to, or own shares in a range of ethically dodgy businesses such as arms dealers, tobacco, logging, oil and energy companies to name a few. Many have also been implicated in dodgy deals like the Libor fixing rate or money laundering too.

The recent Panama Papers leak showed how many large banks helped customers to set up off shore investments and tax avoidance schemes. HSBC and Credit Suisse featured often in these documents and both were quick to say they don’t condone tax avoidance – see this article in The Independent.

The controversial decision to allow fracking in North Yorkshire also highlighted that Barclays own 97% of Third Energy, the company applying to do the fracking.

So.. if you have an account or a mortgage with a high street bank and aren’t happy about about their business practises there are some websites to help you make an informed decision. The Good Shopping Guide has lots of articles and blog posts about a range of ethical shopping choices including this one on ethical banks and building societies and the table below comes from that article.

Ethical Money_Banks and Building Societies TableAnother useful source of information is Move Your Money who also talk about other forms of finance like crowdfunding, peer to peer lending and credit unions.

Not all the best ethical banks do current accounts but if you are looking to put savings somewhere you can be assured the top ones are doing really good stuff with your cash.

It is often said people are more likely to get divorced than change bank, but switching accounts is now much easier than it used to be after rules changed in 2013. The excellent Money Saving Expert website has an article about the changes and 7 day current account switch service.

I have had an account with our local credit union for a while but recent banking scandals have prompted me to move as much as I can to ‘Good Banks’. Unfortunately, our mortgage is with a slightly dodgy institution, but at least I’ve made a start!

If you are interested in finding out more about this subject see my previous blog about the free online course Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered.

just money

Henry Moore – Arena documentary

Buried deep in the archives on the BBC website are a collection of wonderful old films and documentaries including this one about the sculptor Henry Moore.

This was an Arena programme broadcast to celebrate Moore’s 80th birthday and is a collection of several films collated by John Read who interviewed and filmed Henry Moore six times over a 28 year period.

There is a decidedly old fashioned and almost reverential tone to the programme but it is a times a beautiful ‘fly on the wall’ documentary and a wonderful insight into the life and work of Henry Moore.

henry moore arena documentary

His huge sculptures can be found all over the world but many of his large pieces are actually not far from us at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield.

I think my favourite part shows the laid back attitude of Henry Moore. He goes off for lunch on his bike while a team and a crane are trying to move an enormous sculpture out of the workshop. It breaks in various places and Moore returns to find chaos and panic – his response to months of work being damaged was beautiful – ‘it can be mended’ 🙂

More old Arena programmes can be found at

And there are a huge number of photos of Henry Moore sculptures on flickr for your perusal.


Musings on Retreat

I’m writing this while on a retreat in deepest Cornwall with some women I know through a mindfulness group. It has been a lovely few days doing not a lot.. a guilt-free escape from our usually busy lives.

When was the last time you stopped and did absolutely nothing? I realise for me it has been a very long time.. partly because we live in the Yorkshire Dales, so any holidays or trips to friends or relatives involve a long drive and usually a whirlwind of activities and visits.

We have been lounging around reading, journal writing, meditating, sketching, walking, cooking, drinking lots of tea and wine and generally recharging our batteries.

It really has been an interesting experience to be properly ‘away’ with very limited mobile signal.. and actually quite liberating to do nothing.

The wind is whistling through the windows but the sky is blue and the crows are playing in the wind… this is my view…

view from Trefreock

Pretty good eh  🙂