So much to do

The last few blogs have concentrated on our natural world mainly trees. But if we want a future for our planet and especially for our island we need to do a lot more. I am very aware of noise and air pollution as I live by a main road with bus stops outside my flat. Very handy when you want to use the bus but annoyingly noisy and smelly when you don’t. When I moved here I did not know how much traffic uses this road, buses, lorries delivering to the shops a bit further down and many cars including the cars owned by young men who try to make them as noisy as possible.

There was a lot of small industries here in the years past, shoemaking and brickmaking and many other small industries. The stream at the bottom of our garden was often polluted according to the locals but apart from shopping trolleys and rubbish dumped in it, it seems quite clear. It runs into a large lake system in the nearby valley. (Nene Valley). Recently the lakes and rivers have been flooded and this of course pollutes them with the runoff from the land some of which is still farmed.

Water pollution is high on the list of things that need to change but nobody seems to want to invest in the machinery which can clean the water. The water companies prefer to give their shareholders lots of money instead.

I recently got an email about a Peoples Plan for Nature. I downloaded their ‘brochure’ and found it extremely interesting. It states the following:

‘The People’s Plan for Nature is a UK-wide initiative powered by the National Trust, the RSPB and WWFUK. It is a unique collaboration with the UK public to protect and restore
nature in the UK.’

It makes interesting reading and I hope that some of it’s ideas become reality. There is a long way to go but we must keep trying and fighting for our natural world, all of it.

Trees and more

Spring is on the way, The trees are showing buds and tiny leaves and the blackthorn is in bloom. It really brightens the day and helps me to deal with the horrible news about tree felling in many places. As was reported recently by the Woodland Trust ‘“#MatureTrees are not replaceable with a sapling. There seems to be no appreciation that the starting point for regeneration or redevelopment should be designing around the nature that is already there.” – Andy Egan, Head of Conservation Policy.

I totally agree with that statement. But many who plant saplings by the roadside to stop the soil from moving and to act as windbreaks, never look after the saplings and many die. What a waste of money and saplings. I had a sapling last year and it was put in the grounds around the complex where I live. The muntjac nibbled the nice new leaves until my son and I put a protective cage around it. But however much I watered it last summer the drought and extreme heat killed it. It will be replaced by a buckthorn but not until the buckthorn is able to withstand all kinds of weather.

It seems that councils are starting to fell trees over night unknown to those trying to protect the trees. I have seen this done before when a whole row of trees disappeared over night in the town where I then lived. Yet trees are so important to us, without them we could die. There are many reasons why they are so important and here are a few ‘Trees contribute to their environment by providing oxygen, improving air quality, climate amelioration, conserving water, preserving soil, and supporting wildlife’. They also provide places for us to walk and enjoy the outdoor life and help to prevent mental illness.

I have just been out to fill the bird feeders and went to look at the stream that runs along the bottom of the complex. There are very old willows there as well other small trees and quite a large blackthorn. The stream is the highest I have ever seen it and is rushing along looking very muddy. But the trees soak up the excess water and stop the area from flooding.

So be aware of what your council plans for it’s trees. Make sure you protect those you have and get more planted.

Wildlife gardening and hedges

Hedges are another natural growth that are being destroyed like trees in the name of progress and new houses. In my previous home I had a large old hawthorn hedge separating my garden from the ones at the back. It was around 9 feet high, 3 feet deep and about 18 feet long. It was wonderful! The birds loved it and made nests in it and the chorus of their singing could be heard down the road. I miss it but I have compensations where I live now. I live in a block of flats, one of six and we have lots of grass around us and a stream running along the bottom. Many of the residents have tiny borders with flowers and shrubs and some grow veggies in pots and bags. I have a small patch of garden about 12 feet by 2 feet and this is good. I also have lots of pots and grow veggies in bags sitting on a pallet. This morning I saw a muntjac running along by the top of stream.

My aim with the garden patch was to attract bees and butterflies as well as dragonflies from a pond over the back. So plants were put in that attracted bees, verbena, rudbeckias, heleniums and many others. I also have spring bulbs and plants like cowslips. Last year it was buzzing with bees and a lot of different butterflies made visits. My son and I also took over a wild patch and planted it with wild flower seeds. It was good last year but promises even more this year.

You too can have some wild flowers or flowers that attract bees in your garden. But what if you only have a small patio or balcony. You would be surprised what you can grow in pots! You can also now buy packets of wild flower seeds and kits for planting which include pots and compost. Watching the bees and trying to identify them can give you great joy. There are many different bees but I like the buff tailed ones best.

If we are going to lose trees to housing developments (see previous blog) then we all need to do something to make sure we can provide places for the bees, butterflies and other insects. In a small garden you can also get frogs. Because I could not have a pond in my last place, I bought a small kit that came with a bowl, compost and a few plants. This did well and the birds loved it too.

What can you do to help the environment?

Houses, trees and TPOs

I have lived in many places during my time here on earth and have seen many different forms of housing. Many towns and cities have had tree lined streets and still have these. I remember walking as a child down into town on a wide road with large trees on both sides. These are still there. I lived in another town where council housing was built with trees lining the street. Oak Road had oak trees, Lime Avenue had lime trees and so on. I look at the style of housing currently being built. We went from large manors, villas and rows of two up and two down terraced houses, to lots of semidetached houses and some detached ones but now we have new estates of what are called town houses. These are the modern form of the old terraced houses. Many have no garden but have paved parking spaces.Small saplings have been planted in small open spaces but this is nothing like the tree lined roads of old.

Trees can have preservation orders TPOs, placed on them.So what is a TPO? ‘Tree Preservation Orders (or TPOs) are placed upon trees that have been assessed and identified as having ‘amenity value’. They are put into place by councils and can protect either a single tree or a group of trees on land within their authority.’ My son and all his neighbours have large trees in their gardens all with TPOs. ‘A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) is a legal tool to prevent harm being done to trees. It makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy protected trees without prior written consent from your local authority. It also creates a duty to replant a tree removed without consent.’

This last couple of weeks there has been a group of protesters around a beautiful avenue of ancient lime trees at a local beauty spot by the river. (all the trees have TPOs) I went to chat to them on Thursday and offer support. The embankment as it is known is a wonderful place to walk. There is a playground for children, picnic benches and a small kiosk selling hot food and drinks. Lots of swans and ducks too. The space is open and the trees wonderful. A new housing development on the edge of town, wants to cut down these trees to enable a new roundabout and road to be built leading to the new development. There are already problems with this new development as the sewer fractured and now the sewer pipe is above ground. Imagine looking through your windows at this huge sewage pipe outside. One of the roads leading into the nearby town is already showing signs of widening, Trees have been cut down and a digger was there on Thursday clearing the undergrowth.

Back on the embankment some trees have already been cut down but with help from other important people, the felling has been stopped and a proper public consultation is going to be held. Plans will be available for the public to see and comment on. Some trees many still have to be cut down but hopefully not very many.

So many questions is this; what is the point of a TPO if a developer comes along to build houses and wants to remove the trees? The original permission for this was in 2015 but times have changed and the cutting down of these wonderful trees seems to go against what the current government is planning to do in the future. Money talks though!

Here is a photo of some willow trees by the car park

Walk your talk

Lots of phrases go with ‘walk your talk’, such as ‘actions speak louder than words’. I have sat on lots of committees over the years and watched and listened as many ideas were put forward. ‘Let’s do this then’ was often spoken but when it came down to it, nothing happened because although the words were sincerely meant, the actions did not follow. People make promises that they have no intention of keeping and I find this very sad.

Looking at our world today I see many promises being made, actions promised but all of this never arrives. Governments make promises to help other countries but the aid or money never arrives. Seeing what is going on currently in our world, really bad storms, floods, earthquakes and war and then seeing all the adverts for giving aid makes me think that it is mainly the ordinary man or woman who does the helping.

I have ‘friends’, not sure they are really friends as they talk about being organic and loving the earth and understanding what is needed then they go off on holiday across the world and tour in a gas guzzling vehicle. To me that is not walking your talk. I don’t profess to only eat organic food as I find it hard to get at times but I do try to buy fair trade clothes when I can. I also try to help others less fortunate not necessarily with giving them money but by helping them to find ways to live better and where they can go for help like the food bank.

I’d love to go abroad but the thought of my carbon footprint makes me think that it is better to stay in the UK. There are some wonderful places to visit and some amazing nature to walk through so why fly abroad? Last summer it was hotter here than in Spain and is likely to be the same this year so foreign holidays are not needed if you only want to go for the sun. How do you walk your talk?

Too much technology?

I remember when my elderly mother was given her first debit card and pin number. She just did not understand what to do and was not able to remember the pin number either. Nowadays we take these things for granted and shop online happily. Or do we? There are many who do not have the facilities to do this. Not everyone has a smart phone or a tablet or a PC.

Yet applying for bus passes and government help seems to be only available online. I am one of the lucky ones and know how to do these things but I know others who cannot. I have been helping a neighbour recently with her universal credit account. Everything seems to be done by text or online and she finds this extremely difficult to do on her phone and to understand how to do. I noticed that details of payments and any times when payments were reduced was available in a pdf file. She had no idea how to open the file or what it was. Why do governments think that everybody can do everything online? What if you don’t have access. I was told that for some things like the elderly bus pass you can go to a council office often some miles away and not always accessible on the bus. Not everyone has a car either. I don’t have one.

So many of us are very lucky to have this access to online things and we often take this for granted. It has become a part of how we live and many cannot survive without it. But there are other reasons why everything should not be available via the internet. There was a programme on the TV last week about the large number of servers required to keep the internet going. The amount of energy and water used was horrendous and would have provided power for thousands of homes.In one area new houses could not be built because there was no water supply. It was being used up by several buildings containing servers for the internet. Do we think of this when we attend meetings on Zoom, for example? No, we take it all for granted without seeing the cost. Maybe it is time for us to take a look at our technology and find out how much we actually need and how much we can do without.

Looking forward

Our government has produced an environmental improvement plan. Very ambitious but full of flaws. The government intends to make the environment better and leave it in a state that is much improved from when they took over. One of the items that interested me was about river and stream pollution. ‘The environment secretary has said the UK government is taking urgent action to reduce sewage discharges into rivers and the sea in England. George Eustice unveiled a plan to curb pollution from the “most damaging” storm overflows by 75% by 2035, and 80% of all discharges by 2050.’ 2035 is over 10 years away. Why can’t it be sooner? Are they afraid of the companies that pollute our streams and rivers? The damage done by polluted rivers is enormous and has been a problem for many years.

Another interesting statement is this one ‘every household in England will be within a 15-minute walk of a green space or water, with the Government committing to restoring 500,000 hectares of wildlife habitat and 400 miles of river.’ Really. If we are to be within 15 minutes of a green space then a lot of buildings will have to disappear. If only this could happen soon it would be wonderful to only have to walk for 15 minutes to a nice open green space. The green spaces I know within a 15 minute walk are often covered in litter and dog poo so not a nice place to walk or even sit for a while.

Words are easy to say but promises hard to put in place. It has become a well known fact that being outside in woods and green places is good for mental health. Maybe those in power are understanding this but promises to change things need to be followed by action.

On another note there are several signs of the coming Spring around us. I have seen lots of hazel catkins, snowdrops, dwarf irises and crocuses and the willows are starting to show their catkins too. The birds are eyeing each other up and starting their mating dance routines which can be quite funny to watch! There are some things that never change and I for one, would not want to see them change. So let’s keep the good stuff and get rid of the bad stuff.

Our natural world

As a druid I have always been deeply connected to the natural world around me and as I have grown older I have learned more and more about this world and how everything is connected. I have learned to understand much better how biodiversity works and how every single insect, bird, flower, etc is important. I am a member of our local wildlife trusts and visit a lot of nature reserves and country parks which are often run by the local county council.

What disturbs me at the moment is the amount of scrub clearing and tree felling. I know that one area was cleared and became a bit of a meadow but then sheep were let in to graze and when they left there were no plants to be seen. Some plants in this spot were attractive to one specific butterfly which no longer visits because it’s food is no longer there.

A few days ago I visited this nature reserve and workmen were there busy clearing scrub and felling trees. It made the reserve more open of course but also more open to the chilly wind which blows across the reserve. The Trust states this on their website;’ The loss of any kind of trees from a nature reserve can cause mixed views, but we are confident that the benefit to core designated waterbirds is significant.’ This particular reserve is known for its birds and waterbirds but there are other species of life there in the undergrowth and trees. When you destroy one habitat to provide for another than the destroyed habitat cannot be replaced elsewhere without difficulty. There are two reserves in this area where the waterbirds are important but we must not forget those other species that rely on what is in the undergrowth to survive. We have lost two many species over the last few years and we don’t want to lose any more.

I’d love to read your response to this blog so please comment.

This was one of many piles of logs and branches

January thoughts

It is frosty, cold and sunny outside so I am staying inside and trying to keep warm. I am lucky that I can do this but there are many who cannot afford to heat their homes. I do feel very tired though and like many others who do a lot of spiritual and healing work, I need a break from this. This year is in numerology terms a 7 year. For me the number 7 has always meant a time to go inside and learn about yourself and who you really are and what you are here on this planet to do.

The year did not start well as I had rather a lot of technology problems but they seem to have been sorted apart from one which is not so important. However although my body resists walking far, my brain is working overtime some days. This means I have been able to do local history research and write it up. I have managed to finish two projects this last couple of weeks and am now waiting for record offices to help me to move on with other projects. I find this kind of work quite fulfilling. It is social history of course, and I can see how little the world has actually changed regarding how people live despite technology and higher wages. There are still many who do not have enough money to live on, just as there were many years ago. We no longer have workhouses though which is a good thing.

There are still wars going on and many dying through this and through other disasters. If our climate is changing as it seems to be then there will be more refugees and more deaths. Are we ready to deal with this or are we going to refuse to help when needed? If parts of the world become inhabitable then people will more elsewhere to somewhere they can live safely and find food. If we don’t think about how we live and change as needed then in a few more decades we may not be here as our world will not provide what we need. What do you think about this?

A new year

Happy New Year to all my readers. It seems a strange start to the year, mild weather and lots of rain. I tend to expect cold and snow in January, but the weather or climate is changing. The bulbs are shooting up and some have buds on them. Last week I was out and saw hazel catkins in bloom. I’m not sure I like how the weather is going. I remember cold winters with lots of snow and children out with sledges. I remember seeing people going to work on skis. I haven’t seen much snow over recent years.

Strike action is in the news at the moment. I remember the winter of discontent or whatever it was called. I also remember having power cuts at scheduled times. Nothing seems to have really changed apart from technology which has caused me quite a few problems recently. I use Windows 7 on my PC and it works perfectly. However I keep getting messages that such and such program will not be updated any more unless I change to Windows 10. To do that I would have to buy a new PC and as mine works well why change it? This happens with other electronic devices so in the end I got a very basic mobile phone instead of a smart phone which suits me fine.

I use an old vacuum cleaner. I bought it a long time ago maybe 25 or so years for £49 and it is still working well so why get a new one? I know friends and relatives who are always getting messages to buy new things even a new car although the current ones work well. Is this a part of the problems of today? Do people always want the most updated version of something? Maybe it is time for people to think about what they need not what they want. Mobile phones contain rare earths in them. They are called rare earths for obvious reasons and currently cannot be recycled.

So a new year, a new way of living maybe and then a new way of being, happy, at peace and in tune with nature.