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Tales From the Farm – building the windy city

Marley helps to dig the trench for the oil pipeline.

Marley helps to dig the trench for the oil pipeline.

The farm is, like many old rural buildings, powered by oil and I’m honestly not a fan of oil. It’s messy, expensive and environmentally debilitating. The thought that heating our house and water is playing a part in the destruction of our beautiful planet and helping to fund wars and terrorists, doesn’t sit well with me. So Mrs Jez and I looked at some renewable, alternative energy options.

We were both very excited at the prospect of keeping pigs and using their waste to

New Year Thoughts for 2017

Ducklings about to get married - there's something for everyone in my blogs.

Ducklings about to get married – there’s something for everyone in my blogs.

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!

It’s that time again to go through my giant jar of post-it notes, reflecting on all of the positive things that have happened throughout 2016 and the little things that made a difference. Each one of those things I wrote down onto a sticky note, folded it up and put them inside a giant jar in my office: a collection of more than 500 individual snapshots of positivity from the past year.

I find it especially

Tales from the Farm – roses and the magically appearing telegraph pole

Almost an hour into project "dig up the dead bush" and we realise there's something inside...

Almost an hour into project “dig up the dead bush” and we realise there’s something inside…

I may – or may not – have recently abused the phrase: “that’s what friends are for” when my best friend came to stay for a relaxing and social weekend to catch up at the farm with her husband and I may – or may not – have roped him into cutting down a giant, dying bush.

The bush was gigantic; at least 7 feet in diameter and at least that tall, too. It looked unsightly and out of place in the orchard. The plan was simple: dig it up so that we can replace it with an apple tree. You might remember from previous blogs that I’m following along with Monty Don’s book The Complete Gardener and Monty has his garden planted in zones: he’s got a wet garden, a vegetable garden, an orchard etc, so that’s exactly what I’m trying to create here. Only we’ll have an orchard, a rose garden, a vegetable garden, a herb garden and a formal garden. I think. It’s a work in progress.

Anyway, Pete (my best friend’s husband) and I venture out into the garden early one Saturday morning and started to hack away at this giant, dead bush. We both half-jokingly suggested how useful a hedge trimmer or chainsaw would be to literally cut it into two and then dig up whatever was left. After 45 minutes of fairly back-breaking work, it transpired that a hedge trimmer would have been a really, really bad idea. In the centre of this giant bush

Tales From the Farm – “You Need To Get a Man”

Jim prepares to give our 100+ year old horse chestnut a hair cut.

Jim prepares to give our 100+ year old horse chestnut a hair cut.

Since I last wrote, there have been a lot of men coming and going in and out of my life. I blame my Mother. She kept telling me to “get a man in for that”. She was of course right because almost everything we’ve touched so far has either fallen apart or revealed that it is about to and way out of my league of basic DIY skills.

Are Supermarkets Brainwashing Us?

Lines on supermarkets floors help make us spend more

Lines on supermarkets floors help make us spend more

If you listen to BBC Radio 4, you might have heard me on the You and Yours programme this week discussing the recent research supermarkets have conducted into how to slow shoppers down.

By installing horizontal lines on the floor of certain aisles, researchers demonstrated that shoppers took longer to reach the end of the aisle, therefore increasing the chances that they

Tales From the Farm – Money Pit Farm

Generating my own heat, planting 19 laurel bushes!

Generating my own heat, planting 19 laurel bushes!

I won’t lie, it’s been hard. It feels great to finally be in and after the first 10 days or so of wondering whether we made the right decision, it feels as though we’re about to finally turn a corner. Progress and reflection are both wonderful feelings but both require concentration and effort and in the case of buying a run down farmhouse, a lot of hard work!

What hasn’t helped is that I was born with marginally more brains and significantly less brawn. I’m not your Diet Coke builder kind of husband – DIY and I just don’t get on. I’m a planner; a creative – research and writing, not building and rewiring. However, this move has been full of

Wrap up your bananas but don’t be S.A.D.!

Banana plants need to be protected from the frost

Banana plants need to be protected from the frost

You might have seen on instagram that it’s time to wrap up your banana plants for the winter.

I missed the opportunity to record a video showing you how to do it, partly due to a complete lapse of thought to do so and partly because I did it on a bit of a whim. Work has been incredibly busy and I’m traveling a lot, so in between cooking a Sunday dinner last weekend and attempting to lower my stress levels with the house move (no, we’ve still not moved…), I dashed into the garden and wrapped up my bananas.

There’s something so wonderfully cathartic about

Why I asked Robin Sharma & Marshall Goldsmith to be a part of Flip the Switch

When I was writing my latest book, Flip the Switch, I was sat at my kitchen table, looking out into the garden marvelling in awe at the complexity and beauty of the world that we live in. From somewhere in the back of my mind popped a few lines, which seemed familiar: “Risk more than is required”, “be strong”, “laugh, cry, innovate”, so I Googled them to learn their origin.

Thinking they were perhaps from a song or poem, the search results jogged my memory and I realised they were snippets from Robin Sharma’s “Rules for Being Amazing”. They fitted perfectly with what I was writing, so I contacted Robin to ask his permission to include them in the book.

TV Stars Back New “Good Life” Research Project to Investigate How Nature Makes For a Happy Workforce

Good Life Project Logo Alternative copyA brand new research initiative backed by broadcasters Kate Humble and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has been launched today.  The Good Life Project aims to provide evidence-based and cost-effective solutions to the benefits of nature in making businesses happier, healthier and more profitable.

The project is being spearheaded by Behaviour expert and author Jez Rose along with a team of psychologists and neuro-scientists and is endorsed by the Soil Association.

The Good Life Project is designed to overcome the problem of workplace absenteeism by trying out a range of workplace initiatives based around the natural environment to see what sort of difference they make to an employee’s feeling of wellbeing.

Rose believes many organisations are heading in the wrong direction:

“Latest figures show that the average level of workplace absence in the UK is 6.9 days per employee with minor illness remaining the most common cause of short term absence and creating a cost to the employer of £554 per employee.

The Just 1 Project – revolutionising fundraising using social media

The Just 1 Project is raising £500,000 for 5 charities in just 5 months using only social media

The Just 1 Project is raising £500,000 for 5 charities in just 5 months using only social media

Today is a monumental day for me, both professionally and personally. Back in January 2016, in fact on New Year’s Day, I decided that I wanted to do something this year for charity; something different to the many fundraising campaigns and activities I’m normally involved in.

I wanted to raise a large amount of money for very deserving charities but didn’t want to throw myself out of a plane, or to tip ice cold water over my head. To raise big money for charity, typically you need to find lots of people and many of them need to donate large sums.

The next day, I watched the film “Pay it Forward” with Jon Bon Jovi and Kevin Spacey and it struck me that with social media we have a wonderful opportunity to pay it forward using our social media connections. I grabbed a calculator and worked out that if the average person on Facebook has 200 friends, within 3 lots of connections sharing something, we could reach 1 million people.

1 million!

What if each of those people only donated £1 – no commitment to monthly direct debits, not £20 or £5 but just £1 and they then also shared the fundraising campaign with their friends? If those friends in turn donated £1 and continued to pay it forward, it could revolutionise not only the way that we donate to charity but also how charities fundraise, too.

I’ve called it The Just 1 Project because all I’m asking from you is to donate £1 and then share it once on social media… now, of course, you can donate more and you can share the heck out of it because both the donation and the sharing are important tot he success of raising HALF A MILLION POUNDS for charity.

We can all be a part of something truly extraordinary.

The charities who will each benefit from a fifth share of 100% of the total funds raised are: Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity; Youth Sport Trust; Brain Tumour Research; BASICS-Herfordshire and the Contented Dementia Trust. I chose charities, which impacted on the full life cycle but it wasn’t easy selecting only 5!

So please, click here to go directly to The Just 1 Project website to donate your £1 (or as much as you wish) using the Virgin Money Giving page and to share the project on social media.

You can read about the social psychology aspect of the project on the website, too – I’m interested to discover what it is that makes us want to give to charity; why some people may share but not donate, others may donate but not share and others still may do neither. I’m hoping that when we have raised the £500,000, we will be able to share some of that social psychology information with charities, to help them better understand how to raise large amounts of money using only social media.