Treasures

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Getting hold of a wider range of goods and services without using the car usually involves a journey across the estuary, and what a delight it is. A short walk takes us to our local ferry and a bumpy ride over the sea transports us to Fleetwood, a town packed full of interesting architecture and a good range of independent shops.

Designed by Decimus Burton in the 1830’s, the town was originally designed to accommodate the working classes in  ‘golden sands, sea, air like wine and breath-taking views across Morecambe Bay on clear days.’ It certainly felt that way as we enjoyed a beach side picnic today.

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A train load of books in Fleetwood Library…

And so to more domestic matters…..

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Planning this year’s harvest- inspired by the permaculture movement we are going to plant some full-size trees this year..more later

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Finding a much prettier alternative to filter cartridges

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A handwritten letter from a dear friend on the most gorgeous notepaper

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Making naan to go with our lentil and tomato curry.

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There is something about a day out which begins with a train journey which turns the whole event into something out of an Enid Blyton story, (you can almost taste the potted meat sandwiches and lashings of ginger beer). Travel by locomotive features regularly in the best fiction- Harry Potter’s journey to Hogwarts, evacuation at the beginning of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and the elegant and exotic scenery in Murder On The Orient Express.

Travelling to Ulverston via Arnside you experience stunning vistas from your seat in the carriage as the train goes over two lengthy viaducts. It gives you the sensation of floating over the sea- the route is truly spectacular.

Ulverston itself was a Georgian marvel, packed full of independent shops and peppered with fantastic architecture.

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Travel with a toddler ensures that our progress is slow, regular pauses enable us to savour our surroundings and appreciate the smallest details. He approaches everything with enthusiasm, willingness to learn and a zest for living. He’s an inspiration to us all and a seasoned traveler who, like Poirot himself, insists on regular stops for rest ( a wonderful stop at the converted water tower- Bikestation– a marvellous fusion of bike repair shop and cafe), impeccably punctual mealtimes with only the best local offerings ( today care of the inestimable Poppies cafe). What a privilege to travel with him, CC and my father today!

Into The Woods

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

W.B Yeats

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It’s been a week of contrasts. Reading the brave words of Tina Rothery as she recounts the days spent fighting energy giant Cuadrilla makes me feel so very sad and proud in equal measure. The brave team of people who are slow walking the trucks in an effort to save our water and air are heroes observed by many in Lancashire; as a mum of a small child, it wouldn’t be safe for us to be there during the week, but we can show our support on Solidarity Saturdays.

As activists we need to continue to thrive, take time for ourselves against the seemingly endless onslaught of bad news. We need to make sure that our families engage with nature and learn those precious lessons that only being outside shows us. After all, it is our love of the natural world that will save us, we only protect and cherish what we know and love. Being outside is so very good for our physical and mental well being and reminds us all of what is at stake.

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Time spent nourishing our minds and bodies strengthens us and makes us more effective.

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Today we spent time in the woods and baked a nourishing loaf. All my love to the activists in the world today, wherever you are. XXX

Raisin Bran Loaf

In a large bowl mix together;

1 cup sugar

1 cup of sultanas ( or any dried fruit such as dates)

1 cup of bran fibre (all bran)

1 cup of milk ( soya or cows milk work equally well)

Soak for one hour.

Add 1 cup of sr flour and a teaspoon of mixed spice.

Bake in the oven at around 160C for about 1 1/2 hours.

A Small Change With Huge Impacts

Firstly a confession, I have been getting it wrong, very wrong in fact. Expending energies on taking glass containers to the shop,buying second hand, eating mostly vegetables…..seeing my part in the fight for the planet as one which could be fought within the boundaries of my own home, within my own village. I’ve changed my mind…img_3762img_3735

These actions in themselves are not wasted, they have sparked an interest in the health of our communities and environment, the health of our families and societies and the health of our natural world. Like many environmentalists before me, my journey began with re-cycling and continues with taking action against the giant corporation which is trying to store gas underneath my village, campaigning vocally on blockades and joining in with demonstrations.

However, if we are to make an impact on the health of the planet and our communities we must act TOGETHER, our belief that the environment can be fixed by personal solutions is a fallacy, only collective action will bring about the titanic changes which are needed to save us from annihilation.

A deliberate, systemic message has pushed the need for solutions onto the individual consumer, thus placing the onus on personal consumption and deliberately hiding the much greater impact of corporations and the consumer economy of growth at any price. In his article ‘Forget Shorter Showers’, Derrick Jensen explains how we have been subjected to a ‘campaign of systematic misdirection’- consumer culture has taught us to substitute personal lifestyle choices for organised resistance’ . Explaining further, he uses the example of water consumption in the USA; as individuals we are encouraged to think that taking shorter showers will fix the world’s water and energy problems, but since only 10% of water use is domestic, this is a deliberate ploy to hide the 90% used by agriculture, the military and industry. In another example he explains that of the waste produced, only 3% is actually domestic- so that even if everybody turned Zero Waste overnight, we would still only be reducing our waste by 3%.

Jensen states that if everyone were to follow every single suggestion cited in ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, it would only account for a 22% fall in carbon emissions. Scientific consensus is that emissions need to fall by at least 75% worldwide if we are to save the world in which we live.

Collective resistance is the only answer, we must get together to force our governments to act now. We must join together with as many others as possible to ensure that we save our planet from the selfish few who would seek to annihilate us for the sake of greed and profit.

I believe the capacity for action lies in all of us. I believe that even amongst those who say that they are looking for a ‘quiet life’ a strengthening voice is crying for the need for change. We feel it to our very core, something is very, very wrong with a society which sits back and watches while our Earth is destroyed for the sake of profit and power. I urge you to make that small change today- join in and fight for what matters most- our families and our environment.

Why far fewer toys mean a happier and healthier child.

Children with too many toys struggle to focus properly and fail to gain meaningful experiences through play.

Our son turns one next month and we have made a special effort to limit the number of presents he is given this year. We have requested that people do not buy him gifts, asking friends and family to join us for a small celebration instead. Many studies have shown that a child who has far fewer toys experiences more enjoyment from them and will take far better care of their belongings.

Professor Kathy Sylvya of Oxford University writes about the harmful effects on concentration in a study of 3000 three to four year olds, her research showed a link between greater development of perseverance and intellect when children had fewer, well chosen toys and parents who spent time reading, singing and playing with them. Her research shows that giving children too many toys or the ‘wrong’ toys may actually be harming their development. She suggests a ‘distractive element’ in some toys may lead to children to struggle to focus and subsequently play and learn poorly.

Family homes also benefit from far fewer toys. We have a small basket in our living room with some simple wooden blocks, board and fabric books and a puppet. These toys are brought out when we play together with our baby and tidied away in the evening when it is time for bed. The adults in the house gain a restful living space, free of visual distraction and our son learns to take care of his special things. In his bedroom he has a compact shelving unit with some special toys for now and later on as he develops, wooden toy vehicles, a few books, some gorgeous hand made toys and a small selection of music making toys. Like any other family, these toys use used throughout the house and garden during the day, but are carefully returned to their designated place at night. The result is a restful home, pleasant for the whole family.

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It isn’t easy to achieve this, reminding well-meaning friends and relatives that you place more value in experiences and time spent is difficult. In our cash rich-time poor society it is so much easier to purchase a gift than to consider something that may add more meaning and value to a child’s life.

Next time you need to express your love why not consider the following ways to enjoy your time together?

A special day out -a picnic in the park,visit to a nature reserve or a trip at the beach?

An hour or two teaching a new skill-Spend some time baking scones, making pizzas or kneading bread together and treat yourselves to a cream tea at the end. Build something together such as a cardboard car or fort, defend it from invading armies and retreat for essential ’emergency’ supplies.

A special experience– a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt in the park or garden, a visit to see a seasonal display such as a bluebell wood or falling leaves in Autumn or exploring a castle or stately home.

A special journey – a trip on a steam railway, a seaside tram or funicular or a bicycle ride.

The memories of these special times will last a lifetime and are far more likely to be enjoyable and developmentally beneficial to our children.

Please share your stories and ideas, have you managed to make a birthday extra special ? We would love to hear from you.

 

 

A Little Village with a big heart sends a special Valentine

A small village in North Lancashire is preparing to send an extra special Valentine in 2016.

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Knott End, a small village tucked away on a peninsula north of Blackpool, famed only for its brief connection to the painter L.S Lowry (he painted the Knott End ferry during his holidays there) is preparing to demonstrate how much they love their village.

For over a decade, this little place has battled with the energy giant, Halite, fighting to stop this fossil fuel Goliath storing gas in salt caverns under the River Wyre. Despite  objections from Lancashire County Council, Wyre Borough Council and Knott End council, not to mention thousands of Wyre residents that the storage scheme could pose significant risks to both people living in the area and the environment, Halite has been given consent.

The proposed scheme is within an area of a large number of homes, a significant concern since similar schemes in the US have resulted in explosions and, in the recent case case of Porter Ranch in the USA, a gas leak that affected the health of thousands of residents and took months to stem. There are also concerns about the impact on the wildlife of Morecambe Bay, (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) as many gallons of highly-concentrated brine are pumped out into the sea. It seems as though these are deemed insignificant against profit and the firm has been given the green light by the current government.

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Sadly this scene is becoming only too familiar with families fighting to protect the areas where they live from increasing threats from energy firms, keen to make vast profits at the expense of the environment. It seems incredible that the shareholders of energy firms are deemed more important than clean water, air and land. Fracking opponents point to the millions of gallons of radioactive water produced by hydraulic fracking and the unacceptable risk posed through leaks.

At a time when 195 countries have adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal, the UK government appears short-sighted. As nations strive to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, a unique opportunity to pioneer and boost the renewable energy sector has presented itself. Investment now could reap dividends for many generations to come, not just in terms of the environment but also our economy.

But love will save this place , a true, fearsome love of our land, our air, our water and our love for our children.

The power of this ferocious love is what the resource companies and their advocates in government inevitably underestimate, precisely because no amount of money can extinguish it.

Naomi Klein

Our village is beloved and we will fight for the safety of its people and our land. As communities come together in their millions in unprecedented  grass-roots movements determined to defend their little corner of the globe, they will continue to fight for the land that is theirs. They will battle in the name of love and ultimately, because this is the strongest human motivator, they will win.

(Knott End will be taking its Valentine ( a large collection of postcards) to the energy minister Amber Rudd and my baby boy and I will be with them.)

The BBC is supposed to be impartial so why are they denying the Greens a chance to have their say?

BBC action petition

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Growing up, the BBC was a wonderful institution providing a wide range of programmes for everyone. Sadly this organisation now seems to be riddled with corrupt practices and deliberate censorship.

The BBC ‘s coverage of environmental issues consists of the odd comment from Chris Packham, the one presenter who seems to voice concern about our nation’s dire environmental record. Countryfile, their rural affairs program, paints an idyllic picture of rural Britain which only exists inside the minds of a brainwashed middle England. Meanwhile environmental issues are simply swept under the carpet, the term Climate Change never enters into airtime vocabulary.

Now it seems that they are deliberately blocking the green vote by refusing to allow the Green Party any air time for party political coverage. Yet UKIP and the Lib Dems have both received three slots each.

In the last election well over a million people voted for The Green Party, whose voice is getting stronger with numbers growing greater every year as people become dissatisfied with a corrupt political system which serves only the very rich.

If you believe, as I do, that we should live in a democracy and the greens should be given the chance to share their ideas with the people of Britain, please sign the petition on the above link and champion democracy for everyone. Thank you !

 

Slowing down, re-evaluating

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January always lends itself to reflection and re-evaluating  life’s priorities. CC and I had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and our new baby. We shared time with our families, including CC’s mother who came to visit from Canada. I know that the memories of this Christmas will stay with us for a long time.

 

Even though Christmas isn’t about excess in our family ( we give mainly homemade gifts or things that people have requested), I still felt a little overwhelmed by the steady accumulation of ‘stuff’ (for want of a better term). Our little home has begun to feel too full, primarily because our baby needs equipment, such as a high chair, cot and playpen.

During January CC and I have been having something of a purge, slowly transforming our little house into the family space we need and  selling or donating the items which we don’t. The result has been SPACE !, gorgeous, calming, necessary room for life. Out have gone the multiple wine and beverage glasses, the additional dinner set, my large wardrobe ( and half my clothes and bags!),the spare coffee table for our guest room-now our baby’s nursery.

The result? Our home has begun to transform into the relaxing family space we have dreamed of. There’s less to dust under or over, fewer items to move about when hoovering and significantly less laundry. Less stuff has equalled more time spent playing and talking as a family. Fewer clothes in our wardrobes means that getting dressed takes a fraction of the time and putting away laundry is far simpler, since I don’t need to constantly rearrange items so that they will fit. Fewer pots, pans and plates had made our little kitchen a joy to cook in, I can now open a cupboard and just get out the item I need, instead of having to navigate surplus equipment in order to get what I am after.

Best of all, it has allowed us to put our unused items back out into the world to be used by someone who needs them, meaning that precious energy and the Earth’s resources will not have to be used to make those items again.

The money raised has allowed me to make a very carefully considered purchase (second hand ) -a wonderful child carrier to take our little one on hikes to see the beautiful countryside, recycling our excess has allowed us to enjoy the most precious thing of all…time.