She’s alive – she’s beautiful.
Just thought I’d share.
Here’s to activists who, unlike myself, actually get off their arses and take real-life risks in order to try and protect our lovely, good planet.
She’s alive – she’s beautiful.
Just thought I’d share.
Here’s to activists who, unlike myself, actually get off their arses and take real-life risks in order to try and protect our lovely, good planet.
Before you buy it, do you FSC it?
Buy wood of course.
Sorry, I tried and tried to come up with a clever, rhyming soundbite but nothing worked and that’s why I’m a demonised, economy-crushing public-sector worker and not a high-flying, over-paid writer of cheesy soundbites.
Anyway, did you know or care that 2011 is the International Year of the Forest as declared by none other than the UN? Well it is. And we should care!
I do love forests. I find them mystical and awesome and I can’t think of anything more fun than losing myself in one. Well, that’s not quite true. I’m not Snow White and there would be no Bambi or Thumper rushing to my aid if I got lost in one. I’m more like Red Riding Hood with her bad friendship choices and dodgy hoodies. But they are enchanting places to explore. I spent many an idle childhood hour in the woods building imaginary tree-houses or making endless daisy chains. Or I’d be chasing Faeries and hunting for witches. The imagination at its unburdened best and not an XBox or iPod in sight. Sigh.
Anyway, enough of the wistfulness, the good guys at WWF have a campaign running which asks the question . . . ‘If you knew where your wood came from: What wood you choose?’
Facts are that approximately 1.5 million cubic metres of illegal timber and wood products are imported into the UK every year and it doesn’t need me to tell you that these statistics have a significantly detrimental impact on forests, species, habitats and wildlife. And it threatens the livelihoods of people from some of the worlds poorest communities.
Most people are aware of the Fair Trade campaign and no-one can argue that buying our food ethically whenever we can is beneficial and good but we seem not to think as much about where our non-food items are sourced – everyday items such as paper and loo roll, not forgetting bigger things such as decking, flooring and furniture.
Basically, illegal logging is having a devastating effect on people and wildlife and is contributing to the decline of endgangered species. While we continue to buy products that have been illegally sourced, the deforestation, destruction and exploitation will continue.
As WWF states, you don’t have to stop buying timber products. Wood that has been harvested and managed responsibly is a renewable and sustainable resource that can help support the forests, the wildlife and the communities that depend on them. All we need to do is look for the FSC logo on the product we are buying. Simple as that.
[Click the logos for more info]
Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International, lighting the first Amnesty candle – the small light of hope.
Thank you Amnesty! You really have changed the world. Because of your continuous fight against injustice everywhere the world is now a better place. Here’s wishing for the time to come when the world no longer needs you.
6th February 1945 – 11th May 1981
Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.
Not much to ask for.
Simple. Basic. Powerful.
Bob Marley – a spiritual force with a desire for peace and justice that was expressed with depth in his music.
I hope you’re jamming somewhere beautiful Mr Marley. After thirty years without you on this good Earth, your legendary music is still playing.
The Power of Words
Change your words.
Change the world.
Well what do you expect when we get two long weekends back-to-back and the sun shining throughout? Nothing to do with the fact that my synapses are refusing to fire up and I can’t seem to put anything together that would be worthy of reading. What’s that saying? The mind is willing but the . . . erm . . . never mind. The photo’s will have to do – taken in Rydal Water – a family favourite that we visit often over the seasons. Although there have been some treason-like mutterings from within recently that go something like . . . not there again! Can’t we think of somewhere different? And that’s just the husband! It’s mutiny I tells ya!
It’s increasingly challenging for me to find the time to blog these days so it’s frustrating to say the least when there’s just so much to blog about. For instance, George Monbiot’s nuclear-powered, shot0gun-held-to-his-head U-turn on nuclear power. Well he must have had a shot-gun held to his head when he wrote this. Either that or his body was taken over and possessed by an evil force from the nuclear industry. I mean how else do you explain such an aggressive change-of-heart from someone who spent most of their life campaigning against nuclear power. He appears to have based his newly-found affection for nuclear energy on the fact that Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and a tidal wave and didn’t cause a global catastrophe. Oh! He plays down his pre-Fukushima stance by describing his then views as nuclear-neutral. Well that’s a load of tripe! He was never nuclear-neutral. He was blatantly anti-nuclear. Here’s what he said a few years ago…
There’s loads more where that came from. Hmph! Bloody turn-coat.
And what about this quiet little item? A new EU directive comes into play soon which will give more power to Big Pharma. More power! I hear you exclaim. I know! Anyway, this new directive sounds ok at first glance. Indeed, but there are implications. A EU-wide ban will be in place in a few months but from the 1st of May, hundreds of herbal remedies that have been used in the UK for decades will no longer be available to people who have been benefiting from their properties. This of course may result in people trying to get hold of them via the Internet thus making the control of such remedies impossible . . . and there’s also the added risk that some of these Internet-acquired products will be of a much poorer quality. It’s a big win for the pharmaceutical profiteers but let me just ask the politicians who’ve made this decision (I suspect muchly due to some sneaky hand-shaking and bribery from the drug companies) a question . . . What do you think people were doing to relieve their illnesses hundreds and hundreds of years ago? And actually, an important thing to consider is that many herbal medicines are taken by healthy people in order to try and prevent illness. And we all know the saying about prevention and cure. But there’s no profit in healthy people is there. Avaaz have a petition up here.
They’d better keep their hands off my herbal tea!!
Is there room to squeeze in a little personal message to David Cameron? Yes? Ooh goodie. . . .
David, do be quiet dear. Do try to stop being such a condescending twit. I know it’s hard to keep up the facade of nice, popular man-of-the-people but please try harder to hide your real chauvinistic, homophobic character. We know you were only trying to be funny and clever and that, but you’re not funny and clever. You’re witless and boring so do hush up. Oh and David dear, please try to keep that arrogant, snot-faced, creepy little chancellor of yours under control. His sneering, giggly, immature face is really making me want to vomit bucket-loads each and every time I see it. Thank you dear.
Speaking of the patronising Cameron, I’m taking bets on how long after the Royal wedding will it be before Shallow Cam starts using the happiness of the event to spin his ideological visions for Britain.
And to finish, I’ll pop up a picture or two, just to keep the place alive, barely, but alive just the same. Oh and I’ve sneaked a little video in at the end – a party political broadcast of the Green variety. Go on – vote for the Green party. You know you want to.
My middlie taking part in the May Pole dancing for St. George’s day. So there, BNP. You can stop spreading the myth that celebrating Englishness is being outlawed.
Bolton Abbey Priory. I took that picture with my broken little Nikon Coolpix L22. Impressed? I am.
Big Fish Rugby Tour in Swansea . Fabulous rugby-playing by our Under 11 boys . Much bad sportsmanship displayed by winning team’s coaches by-way-of entering two teams separately and doing some dubious jiggery-pokery with said teams . Me-laddie getting pushed about by huge brute of a boy of the ginger-haired variety . Me trying in vain to mask my blatant glee when me-laddie got his revenge on aforementioned huge ginger brute by making an enormously heroic tackle on him thus sending him flying into touch and me-laddie going on to score a magnificent try . Magnificent try disallowed by dodgy and quite clearly biased ref . Gorgeous weather . Lot’s of freckles . Too much beer . Too much food . Too little time . Late nights/early mornings . Back to work . Off work again! . Lot’s of pain and soreness, mostly caused by a confused immune system that wouldn’t know a healthy joint (that does not need it’s owners immune system to kick in and randomly attack it and all its brother and sister joints thankyouverymuch) from a real live streptococcal throat infection (that actually does require some attention by said immune system . . . and promptly if you pleaseandthankyouverymuch) . sigh . Much outpouring of misery and feeling sorry-for-oneself . Back to work . double sigh . Much team conflict . sigh, wail, gnash teeth . Lot’s of regret for having returned to work instead of prolonging sickness leave by exploiting existing condition .
Thank the gods of mercy for weekends.
Have I really been away for that long? What happened to February? And March! March downright sneaked right by me without so much as a wave or a by-your-leave. Well technically March hasn’t gone yet but it’s almost the end of another month. Time really does fly.
Well anyway . . . how are you? T’as been a while.
And, making every effort to avoid the doomsday talk, it’s been quite a weekend folks.
We had that lunar perigee and would you know it, it even came with a full moon – and a clear night! Who the heck planned that? Not me that’s for sure. In all honesty, although it was all very pretty and enchanting, I didn’t notice old Mr. Moon looking any closer than he does any other night but then, as my wise son told me, if we looked at the moon sans perigee and compared it to the perigee (a kind of ‘before and after’ picture) then I’m sure we’d see a difference.
Moving on -
Drum roll if you please . . . England went and won the Six Nations which of course is just as it should be. And then – even bigger drum roll ( and hey, let’s add huge trumpet fanfare . . . . . . . . . . . me laddie scored the winning try at Sunday’s game in the local rugby tournament. He also came off the pitch sporting a lovely swollen and bruised cheekbone but, being the roughy-toughy, steely-eyed boy that he is, my concerns were abruptly (not to mention disgustedly) rejected. [Note to self: must stop calling him me laddie, especially in front of his rugby buddies].
Then we spent some time cabbaging on the sofa with the TV on, mostly Tracy Beaker (yes, you heard! Well he’s a big softie at home). Tracy Beaker is a childrens TV show based on Jaqueline Wilson’s series of books all about a childrens care home. Well after watching a couple of back-to-back episodes me laddie (sorry, old habits and all that) now thinks I should put him into care because apparently kids in care have much more fun that he does. Well that may be so if all care workers were like the ones in Tracy Beaker, and it has to be said, the ones in Tracy Beaker are pretty cool and fantastic, but they are actors – with written lines and stage props and stuff. And the sad reality is (and to our great shame my friends) that we are failing our children in care.
And on that note, before I pour out a torrential rant, it’s ta ra for now. My comeback has gone back and there’s no telling when it will come back again so in the meantime I’ll leave you with this timely little video by the very lovely . . . .
T’is rather hard to know where or how to start when one has been so ludicrously absent from blogs and the posting thereof but I shall give it a go, somewhat sheepishly but hey ho. No. Actually. Forget the sheep. I think I’ll start true to form – with a rant. Here goes . . .
Another Christmas has been and gone and I made the same mistakes. Every year, no matter how much I try to resist, I fall under the spell of consumerism. Not obscenely so but enough to make for some serious self-berating. I argue with myself and finger wag at my kids that we’re cutting back this year . . . don’t expect so much because I really mean it this time!!! . . . but Captain Capitalism always manages to bewitch me at Christmas and forces me to buy all kinds of crap that no-one really needs (and probably doesn’t even want that much if truth be told). The food wastage alone is a sin of biblical proportions but it’s the whole Xmas package (and packaging!) that gets so mental. Well what’s done is done. I tried to be as green and as ethical as possible but if I’m honest I failed on more levels than I care to admit. Anyhoo, here are some UK Christmas eco-facts:
The snow queen visited her lovely self upon us for the second year running (well I know we’ve had snow other years but not with any intensity worth mentioning). T’was another beautiful Winterval with some delightful bright snowy days and our enchanting moon providing some gorgeous nights with its orange silveryness above us (I know. Just use your imagination). I sometimes find myself wishing I had a really good camera that would do justice to some of the moons I’ve enjoyed this Autumn/Winter. Mind you, a proper, decent camera would be wasted on the likes of me so my little Nikon will suffice for my limited technical knowledge. I don’t even use that to it’s full capacity . . . and I dropped it once so now an elastic band keeps the battery cover closed. I’m really rubbish sometimes. Anyway, some piccies:
Comfort and Joy
Lovely Middlie provided the joy by dancing in the local theatre panto again and of course she was brilliant. This year it was Mother Goose and it was hilarious. And in a rare, out-of-character moment, I was actually organised enough to book tickets early enough to get the comfy seats with optimal viewing.
The best thing about 2011 is going to be
England lifting the rugby world cup on my rugby-mad son’s 12th birthday. Yay!
Well that wasn’t so bad. TTFN folks.
Me laddie has been put out of action for a few weeks due to breaking his little finger in two places during a rugby training session. He had to have surgery to manipulate it back into place. The orthopaedic registrar informed us that surgery was necessary because the breaks were on growth plates and his finger would not grow properly without the surgery. They even kept him in overnight and I got to sleep on a chair bed right next to him. All very dramatic for the sake of a broken pinky finger but we were looked after very well. Yep, I experienced for myself the greatness of the NHS, but despite the pledges and the ring-fencing, be in little doubt that the cold, hard hands of Cameron and Giddy-boy will soon be felt around the neck of our beloved NHS. It’s already happening folks.
Anyway, me laddie . . . the poor boy is gutted. He can’t play rugby for another four to six weeks and to rub the salt well and truly in, after waiting nervously for weeks for his teacher to make the team announcements, he just got chosen for the the school’s football team and hasn’t been able to play a single game for them yet. He was chosen to play goalkeeper, the position that everyone usually dreads but I think they gave him that position on account of his catching skills. Well, probably more likely because, having played rugby most of his life, he kept trying to catch the ball instead of kick it. He doesn’t mind being goalie though. Loitering idly whilst picking paint off the posts and wondering what’s for tea suits him splendidly.
Anyhoo, well and truly out of action is where we are right now and even cycling is out of bounds so we’ve been going on lots of walks – just so his stamina and fitness levels don’t walk away altogether never to be found again.
Yesterday we went to Bolton Abbey and to my delight, there were lot’s of Halloweeny things going on which included a pumpkin trail. My boy, having turned eleven just last week, was a bit disgusted at such childish nonsense but I have a sneaky feeling that his buddy who came along with us unintentionally induced much of that disgust. So, not one to miss out on anything, I took part myself and just as I thought, it wasn’t long before they were both butting in and shouting out with unreserved excitment whenever they spotted a pumpkin or a witch. Even the hubby was caught up in it all. T’was jolly good Halloween stuff.
I even managed to take some pictures of the beautiful Autumn day so, for your Autumnal pleasure . . .
Despite the tremendous progress in material conditions the world over, suffering remains. The afflictions such as greed, anger, hatred and envy that underpinned much of our misery thousands of years ago continue to do so even today. Unless there is a radical change in human nature within a rapid period of time, these a…fflictions will plague us for many centuries to come.
The most important benefit of patience consists in the way it acts as a powerful antidote to the affliction of anger – the greatest threat to our inner peace, and therefore our happiness. The mind, or spirit, is not physical, it cannot be touched or harmed directly. Only negative thoughts and emotions can harm it. Therefore, only the corresponding positive quality can protect it.
A mind committed to compassion is like an overflowing reservoir – a constant source of energy, determination and kindness. This mind can also be likened to a seed; when cultivated, it gives rise to many other qualities, such as forgiveness, tolerance, inner strength, and the confidence to overcome fear and insecurity.
After last year’s fantabulous once-in-a-lifetime holiday in the Caribbean, this year we decided to keep our carbon footprint low and go camping. It was a bit of a mixed bag of unplannedness and camp-impromptu – ie – destination wherever and accommodation largely unknown.
And it so happened that Grizdale Forest benefited from our presence at one point because that’s where Go Ape is located. If you’ve never heard of Go Ape, it’s basically a tree-top assault course involving stupidly high-altitudes and lot’s of crazy tree-swinging. (If you thought I was a tree hugger before, you should have seen how I clung to those trees in Grizedale!!).
Grizedale Forest is a lovely area with enchanting sculpture trails and several mountain bike routes but it’s a bit too manufactured for our off-the-beaten-track tastes so we don’t visit often. They also hold two motor rally’s each year which I find a bit odd. I mean they spend all year preserving and maintaining its beauty and promoting eco-values yet they allow rally cars to fly around the place twice a year which must surely have a substantial environmental impact. Can’t quite get my head round that one. I did argue with myself about my own possible hypocrisy in that I’ve just taken part in a tourist attraction there involving hair-raising zip-wires and metal ropes wrapped around trees and loony humans swinging from them but there’s really no comparison. GoApe is as carbon-neutral an activity as it gets and it’s got to be less of an impact than all those highly-polluting, energy-guzzling over-populated, corporate theme parks that appear on every spare bit of land the Western world has left – if Walmart didn’t get there first.
Anyway, that’s the whys and the wherefores out of the way, the activity – I was terrified all the way, not least because they leave you – the instructors – they leave you to do the courses alone – all five of them! After a forty minute training session they just leave you. I couldn’t believe it. They give you a whistle and tell you to blow it hard five times in an emergency and that’s it. They stay on the ground while you’re climbing up huge trees and swinging over huge forests. But they tell me that’s the point, that it’s all about personal responsibility skills, safety, building self-confidence, conquering fears etc.. Hmm.
Well I survived. I don’t remember when I stopped trying to guess how many feet above sea level we were and I don’t know at what point it was that my legs stopped pretending to be jelly. It just seemed easier after a while to simply numb my mind and throw myself into it in a ‘what-the-hell’ all or nothing kind of way.
And I can say with some relief and a not-so-small smidging of personal pride, that we completed all five courses. We even opted for the ‘extreme’ extreme route on the final leg. Well to be honest, I was all set to ignore the ‘extreme’ extreme route and turn the other other way towards relative safety. I’d just about had enough hair-raising adventure by then and no longer wanted to play Jane. But they wouldn’t let me. My family, they turned against me, said something about me coming this far and regretting it if I chickened out now. So I was press-ganged onto the final cliff-edge experience. Well it was just a Tarzan swing really but with a huge drop. And it was brilliant. Totally exhilarating.
But I will just whisper (quietly, between you and me) that the cocky, arrogant fella in the group behind us, the one who tutted impatiently when I froze on the first baby Tarzan swing and sighed patronisingly when I got my boot stuck in the net – yes, him . . . he took the easy route.
One enlightening and slightly disconcerting thing I discovered is that my kids have no fear whatsoever. Gulp.
In all honesty, although I loved the whole experience, I’m still not sure how I feel about GoApe in terms of its impact on nature. The trees must surely take some bashing. And the wildlife – the birds, the squirrels, the bats – I’d hate to think they’d been forced to flee from their own habitat for the sake of us humans and our endless search for bigger and crazier kicks.
So I’m going to have to do some research . . . in the hope of appeasing my conscience of course.
Just as we should cultivate more gentle and peaceful relations with our fellow human beings, we should also extend that same kind of attitude towards the natural environment. Morally speaking, we should be concerned for our whole environment.
Who can argue with that?