August ramblings

Today is the first time for many months that I have sat down to write my weekly blog and did not know what theme I would have. Normally during the week before, something happens that triggers my writing but this week there was nothing. However I do have lots of rambling thoughts I can write down, so here goes.

I live about 1/2 mile from the town centre and have always walked down the hill into town and caught the bus back, a little 18 seater bus that can cope with the streets of the various housing estates it travels through. But since March when restrictions came into being, I had not ventured into town at all. I have walked in the local park or around the streets but not gone into town. I knew I could walk down the hill but did not want to use the little bus to come back. Social distancing is impossible in such a small bus and most of us that use it are in the vulnerable class of being over 60.

I needed to go to the bank this week so my son took me down in his car. It was the first time for around 5 months and I was quite apprehensive. However all went well and I did some shopping as well. But this leads me to another few rambling thoughts.

I belong to several groups , photography, discussion and nature groups. None of these can be attended at the moment. I run the nature group and don’t have a car so the group has closed. Car sharing is not allowed unless with a member of your household or bubble. Some groups have gone online like the discussion groups but I don’t fancy sitting at my computer for an hour or two using Zoom. So while many others can go out with their groups because they have a car, there are many others who don’t have a car and so cannot get back to doing the things they used to do. I find it quite difficult to listen and see on social media just what my friends have been up to just because they have a car. Yet on the other hand I don’t like the idea of single occupancy cars because of the carbon footprint. We were supposed to be getting rid of cars and making the environment better for us all yet we are encouraged to use cars now and not public transport.

A final rambling thought is about the seasons. I wrote last week about the spring flowers blooming in my garden. This week the RHS stated that autumn had arrived and looking around the garden I can see that this is so. Many plants are already dying down and some are yet to bloom. I went for a short walk early this morning. It felt like October out there and I noticed that the trees in the park were starting to turn orange and fall onto the ground. Global warming?

Helping each other

During and after the war, everyone worked together to make sure that each person had what they needed. If someone was ill, then others would help with cooking and shopping. Children were cared for too when a parent was ill. Somewhere along the way this ‘helping each other’ seems to have disappeared. Yes, there are some who will always help someone less fortunate but there are many who turn their eyes away.

I have seen this happen recently when a lady collapsed in the bus queue. Many just stood there and did nothing while some of us tried to help. One lady phoned for an ambulance and we made the lady as comfortable as we could while we waited. But helping each other is something that should and can happen all the time. There are so many people nowadays who are vulnerable, the disabled, those out of work and the homeless as well as the elderly or those with some kind of mobility or mental problem. It says a lot about us as a society when there are lots of homeless people sleeping on the streets and the use of food banks is growing.

We need to look at the reasons for these things. It is easy to become homeless if you become ill or are made redundant from your job. If you can’t pay your rent or mortgage then you can lose your home. If no-one helps you then you can end up homeless and sleeping on the street. But what about helping others by offering to shop or cook for them? Even holding a door open for a woman with a pushchair or an elderly person is helping someone. Helping each other can be simple. Sharing food and transport is another way of helping. I am sure you can think of many ways in which we can help each other.

At this time of the year when we remember all those who died in the war, then let us think back to the ways we had of helping others then and try to do this again. It doesn’t cost anything, only perhaps your time. Remember that actions speak louder than words.

Before cling film, aluminium foil and most plastics

There is so much in the news nowadays about our overuse of plastics and similar items. So today I am going back in time to my childhood and early adulthood to see how I lived without cling film, foil and plastic.

First of all I’ll look at the way my mother and I shopped for food. We had a shopping bag that was only for the use of vegetables and when we visited the greengrocers each item was placed directly into the bag. Potatoes went first as they were generally dirty, followed by carrots, parsnips and then other veggies and fruit. At the butchers, meat was wrapped in greaseproof paper and then other paper. This applied to such things as cheese and butter as well. There was no margarine around at that time! Sweets were weighed out and then put in a paper bag as were many other things.

I remember the large brown stewpot we had for stews. There were no casserole dishes around then, no slow cookers or microwaves either. There was no foil for cooking so any roasted items made a mess in the oven which was my job to clean as a teenager. But we were never ill! Sandwiches were wrapped in greaseproof paper and then perhaps placed in a tin. Cakes and pies were cooked and saved in large tins. I do remember the days before refrigerators. We had a larder, a small walk in cupboard which had a marble slab in it for keeping food cold. We also had a smaller cupboard with a mesh door in which we kept meat, covered with a dish or plate and other items. In hot weather, milk stood in a bucket of cold water in the larder.

We bought soap in bars and had one kind for the kitchen and another for the bathroom. The bathroom soap came wrapped in a thin roll of cardboard and some paper. Soap powder for laundry purposes was just that, soap powder and it came in a cardboard box. Milk was brought by the milkman with his ‘float’ or cart and horse (in my childhood) and the milk bottles were washed and returned to the milkman. Bottles of beer and lemonade could be purchased from the local pub outside sales and the empty washed bottles returned. We often had to pay a deposit on the bottle but got it back when we returned it.

Recently I have seen some large supermarkets start to use paper bags to put veggies and fruit in instead of using plastic bags. This is a good start. In the UK too much packaging is used. I know of a cake manufacture who places two slices of cake in a plastic tray, covers the tray with more plastic then puts three of these, covered in more plastic inside a cardboard box. This is far too much packaging.

So what can we do about all of this. We can start by refusing to buy products with too much packaging, work on persuading more companies to protect their products with reusable or recyclable packaging. I have been told that some larger supermarkets will also take from you items such as bread wrappers, plastic potato and other vegetable bags and recycle them. I am sure you will have plenty of other ideas but I find that as a druid I must protect our planet as much as I can. It’s not easy but we can all do our bit and then maybe others will follow and we will get rid of all the pollution we have.