Thursday, December 03, 2009

Make our roads safer for cyclists and walkers

From a Guardian article - link in title of this blog entry

Cyclists are more likely to end up in hospital as a result of traffic accidents than are car drivers, but the following observations are very important in this context.

Deaths and injuries per distance travelled by cyclists in the UK are more than three times those of the Netherlands and Denmark, they say. "This scale of variation between countries, and our findings of substantial seasonal variation, underline the scope for prevention of unnecessary injury."
Debra Rolfe, campaigns co-ordinator of CTC, the national cyclists organisation, said: "It's important to remember that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20:1. Cyclists live two years longer than non-cyclists, have the health of someone 10 years younger and take 10% fewer sick days. CTC's Safety in Numbers research has shown that in places where more people cycle the risks of cycling is lower. In order to get more people cycling, we need to address the fears that deter people from cycling."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


Near Office Lock, Leeds-Liverpool Canal
hedge-osaurus with lights, Charnwood Hotel, Blyth.


Friday, August 21, 2009

I must go down to the blog again

Nothing since April 19th! Shocking. Reasons? Yes. Excuses? Many. Resolutions? Oh yes, to start again...but it'll have to wait until after dinner tonight.
Then, maybe I'll be able to get into position to kick myself hard enough.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Talk or action?

Labour seems to be all talk and no action on green issues. Not that any of the others are likely to be much of an improvement. I think Labour lost its soul when Tony Blair cosied up to big business, but that's hardly news.

See what they haven't done here . No wonder we're all so damned cynical.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Walk - Goadby-Rolleston-Tugby-Goadby

From Goadby to the Tugby-Noseley Road, then up the path to Rolleston

Ah, yes, that's it.

Rolleston Lake

Rolleston church inside the grounds of the hall.

up towards Tugby.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Words and changing usage

Words are my tools ( was - My tools are words, )
and love them as I may,
the common herd makes use of them,
misuses, I might say,
were I inclined to pedantry.
‘You are’ I hear the call.
These tools you hone and store
are not locked up from pilferers
but lie in sight of all.
They die without the light
unpolished, lacking shine.
The trains of thought must run and run,
or rails, long since disused,
will dull and fade to history,
like Concorde, paper aeroplane
that’s banished from the skies
mere symbol of our past delights
profligate supersonic flights.
But words, just words is all they are,
these tools inside my kit
and if abused and then refused
they’ll wither on the line.

This came from two things. I saw the word 'illusive'. I thought it was made up, a mis-spelling of 'elusive'. But no, it exists, meaning 'illusory'. Though it was used as though it meant 'elusive'. The shifting sands of semantics caught at the moment when meaning slipped through my fingers.

Then there was a 'prompt' - paper aeroplane.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Seeds an 'at

I have seeds - beans broad and dwarf, spring onion, radish, lettuce, carrot, beetroot, courgette, rocket and parsley. I bought some and Elisabeth has given me some which came free with a gardening mag.


Two flowers out today - I'm rather impressed by this plant. Last year it sat and did nothing except produce a few leaves from time to time. I'd almost given up on it. Then, this year - kapow!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Earlier this week

Round the Water on wheels

Anemones in the woods

Harry has a well-earned break

Above the Water on foot

On Monday 30 March

The merry band of walkers hit the 'summit' of Mill Hill (not as I thought earlier Ranksborough Hill). In the background are clouds, not, alas, distant mountains.

with a distant view of Rutland Water.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The veg plot

I spent about 45 minutes digging this morning - no problem, the soil has grown veg for a long time and can only have been unused for a couple of years, if that.

When I left to come back home the blackbirds were already on the ground looking for worms - nice and juicy they looked too - the worms, not the birds.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


what are words?
where are they born?

whence daffodil?
the tranquil jonquil,
or lilly dill of Daffy St Dafydd.

who knows for sure?
not narcissus
his own image.

nor I
weaving paths
of made up etymology
and nonsense rhyme
like quills upon
a fretful celandine.

alternative ending

like frills upon
the sun-filled celandine

France - electricity consumption down 1%

An article in Le Point claims that electricity consumption was down 1% on normal usage, i.e. about 800 megawatts.

Click on title for details.

And in America North and South

The New York Times reports on Earth Hour's success.

Now we wait to see what the consequences are. The meetings below are ones to watch, not caused by Earth Hour, but maybe influenced by it.

Obama has announced a meeting in Washington on April 27-28 where representatives of the 16 major economies will meet to discuss action on climate change. This will lead up to various meetings, culminating in one in Italy in July.

And of course it should have some influence on both the G20 in the UK, and the Copenhagen meeting in December 2009.

Earth Hour in the UK

This had more publicity on the BBC at any rate than last year. Updates were posted throughout the day as 8.30 pm reached each part of the world. Late last night this article about the Uk was posted online.

Colin Butfield, campaign director for WWF, said a number of "iconic landmarks" such as Buckingham Palace, the Gherkin, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and the London Eye were plunged into darkness for an hour to mark the event.

On Facebook's page, and on the Earth Hour website there were a lot of facetious comments, as well as the positive. Some people feel morally obliged to represent the negative and anti-communal side of human nature. Oh well. It just shows how different we are, and how variable the nature of the human beast.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

See the lights switched off

BBC video of some of the cities from Sydney to Paris as the lights go off.

Scotland takes part

Scotland is also taking part in Earth Hour's switch-off

From Sydney - to the world

Report in the Sydney Morning Herald

This year, exceeding the wildest dreams of its organisers, participation (in Earth Hour) has swollen to an estimated 1 billion people in 83 countries. Of them, 47 were developing economies, up from nine last year.

Earth Hour 2009

This has received rather more publicity this year - I've heard it mentioned three times on the BBC radio News this morning, including a short interview.

There is an article on their website, too.

In Europe the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Edinburgh Castle will be in darkness for one hour.

A symbol, indeed, but an important one.

Though there are dedicated environmentalists such as George Marshall, founder of the Climate Information Outreach Network , and the blog who argues against this action, as ineffective and likely to resonate badly with the unconvinced, to whom darkness is a Bad Thing, associated with death, decay and privation.

And there are plenty of 'rebels' posting on the comments threads, pledging to leave all their appliances ON.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The (veg) plot thickens

Excellent - the veg plot I can use is pretty small, and that suits me. The house and the garden containing the plot are high up from the road, with a fabulous view over the valley.

It's good for salads, sprouting broc, carrots etc. I'm going to make a start on Tuesday morning...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bits here, bits there...

Maybe I should start another couple of blogs - one for walks (and other exercise), and one for gardening. This blog is becoming distinctly bitty.

I'm hoping to make use of someone's garden in the village. She claims she doesn't use the veg section now. I met her at the newly resurrected Gardening Club. When I described myself as a frustrated gardener with too little space, we thought we should get together.

So tomorrow, off I go to check it out. It's about seven minutes walk away, up a very steep drive, though she assures me the garden is flat once you get there.

I was attracted to this article in the New York Times, complete with its picture of a tall planter made of old tyres. Now maybe I could do that bit at home???

Picture by James Patterson for the New York Times

Monday, March 23, 2009

More on inequality

In the Independent Yasmin Alibai-Brown discusses the book mentioned last Sunday

In The Spirit Level, two sober academics – Richard Wilkinson and his partner Kate Pickett, both medical epidemiologists – have published strong evidence to prove that in unequal societies everyone suffers – even those who think they have it made for generations to come. They looked at 20 of the richest nations and compared various social and health problems, measuring those against an index of equality. The US, Portugal (feudal in the near past) and the UK are the most unequal nations, with the top 20 per cent earning nine times more than the bottom 20 per cent. Japan, Finland, Norway and Sweden are where the money gap is smallest.

Teenage pregnancies, mental illness, life expectancy, obesity, illiteracy, homicide, crime are all worse in the states of greater inequality and not only for the poorest but for all citizens and residents. Spain is more equal than its neighbour, Portugal and you can see how vastly different are the social ills in the two countries. There is even evidence that in unequal societies, the people have higher levels of stress hormones

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dora going 'tween'

A Pink Stinks blog entry explains how young girls are manipulated for marketing purposes. In particular they object to the way Dora is being made to grow up into a 'tween'. Dora is a cartoon character who so far has presented some kind of active role model for little girls.
Comments are interesting and there is a petition you can sign here

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another Limerick

Protecting the honour and income of his family...

The honor of dear Bernard Madoff
made him claim only he ever played off-
side in the game
that brought money and fame
Such a shame that they called his parade off.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two more limericks

How much are you worth AIG
With your clever obscure strategy?
Obama won’t stand it
He’ll make you unhand it
Big bucks rule, it's not his liturgy.

Exactly on whom is the onus
Of controlling the size of a bonus?
The boss of the bank
Or the file and the rank?
These fat-cats must think that they own us.

Not entirely happy with the first one, but for the moment it'll have to do.

Version 2.
Would you pocket the lot AIG
with a secret payout strategy?
I hope O wan't stand it
and makes you unhand it
No big bucks, please, in his liturgy.

Of course the AIG boss is asking them to pay back (half) their bonuses now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Two Limericks

So, I didn't win the challenge, but here are my efforts:

Bernard Madoff
There was a rich guy, Bernard Madoff
Used new dosh to get the old paid off
The money swished round
Till it all tumbled down
Is penthouse for jail a good trade-off?

(So nasty to kick folks when they're down!)

Educational Choice
The idea that a school you must choose
Will leave lots with no choice but to lose
For those with the money
Will sup milk and honey
Let the choose losers sing the old blues

(are my politics showing? Ooops!)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Inequality is the root of all evil

Not new, but it's a good reminder to me. This could be why we are 'broken'. Click title for the article. It's based on a book The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, who claim that the countries whose incomes are most unequal also have high rates of unhappiness, of social problems, of teenage pregnancies etc.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Swimming again

Another 50+ lengths. Keep on keeping on.

Births, deaths and Co2 emissions worldwide

To see the statistics for births, deaths and CO2 emissions for all the world's countries, hover your cursor over the one that interests you.
Huge differences in the length of time it takes to emit 1000 tonnes of CO2. But this is given per country, so to get a meaningful comparison we need to divide by the population, I think.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Celebrity Cat

Starstruck Shelby
achieves lifetime ambition
she's on the telly.

Eat medium eggs...

Something that hadn't occurred to me - it seems that breeding chickens to produce large eggs can cause problems. See Times article. A couple of excerpts below.

Phil Brooke, of Compassion in World Farming, said: “Selectively breeding hens for high productivity, whether larger eggs or larger numbers of eggs, can cause a range of problems such as osteoporosis, bone breakage and prolapse. We need to breed and feed hens so that they can produce eggs without risk to their health or welfare.”

Christine Nicol, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Bristol, said: “There is no strong published evidence of pain in egg-laying hens but it's not unreasonable to think there may be a mismatch in the size of birds and the eggs they produce. We do often spot bloodstains on large eggs. As a personal decision I would never buy jumbo eggs.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Swimming etc

It feels good to be back in the water - approx 50 x 25 meters today, mostly breast-stroke, with several crawl interspersed.
Yesterday I walked for about 40 minutes, with 100 paces running several times - total around 700. Probably not 5 minutes all told, but no ill effects on the knee so far.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Two more clerihews

Gordon Brown
On his way to Washington Town
Hopes contact with Obama
May help him control the drama.

Sir Fred Goodwin
Certainly managed to hood wink
The august bodies who regulate our high finance
16 million in the pot didn’t even make them look askance.

In the second one I was deliberately playing at having a lame kind of rhythm, or lack of it.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Clerihews and a senryu

A few of us have challenged each other to produce clerihews. Here are three of mine:

Lord Peter Mandy
Our business grandee
Anointed in green slime
Who’s to say it’s not time.

Alistair Darling
Doesn’t do snarling
At very rich men who lose money
Makes sure their bread’s spread with honey.

Conrad Black
fraudster and hack
says prison's sweet as toffee
playing piano, drinking coffee.

and a senryu for good measure:

Custardial sentence
for Heathrow runway’s friend -
Mando intacto

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sunshine and early spring flowers

Iris ret.
crocuses too

and drops of snow...

Iris reticulata are showing colour in their spikes, snowdrops are more than just bundles of green leaves. And the sky has shrugged off yesterday's clouds.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Once again the Welland is full of water. Spreading out into pools, no longer snake-fragments along the valley floor, all the way from the viaduct to Stamford, there are new lakes, and in Stamford itself the river is almost level with the land.

And still snow patches linger in the hedge bottoms and on some sunless fields. They're shrinking fast as the temperature reaches dizzy heights - well 9 degrees Celsius.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Shingles - a nasty joke

...which our bodies and the varicella-zoster (chicken pox) virus play on us decades later! I have vivid memories of a five-year-old me, trying to run away from my mother, who was chasing me armed with a bottle of very cold calamine lotion to daub on my spots.

So for the next forty, fifty, sixty years you go around feeling invulnerable whenever you hear of chicken pox, and indeed you won't catch it again. But the sneaky little virus hasn't gone away. It's found a cosy hiding place, usually in a bundle of nerve fibres near your spine.

Then one fine day, your immune system's a little low, or perhaps your body no longer realises it needs to fight this one, since you haven't met anyone with chicken pox for years. Grabbing the opportunity, the sleeping beauty wakes up. It starts to tingle and stick pins in to you, and bursts out in nasty painful spots. Spots which generally follow a band of skin along the nerve on one side of the body. They can itch and make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position. Sometimes the pain can persist for months after the initial attack.

There is a vaccination against chicken pox, not used in the UK, but offered to children in the US. This vaccine can also offer some protection against shingles when given to older people. I'd like to hear more about it.

My suspicion is that it's not a sexy topic, for several reasons:

*The disease isn't life-threatening, as a rule.
*It doesn't occur as an epidemic - you can't 'catch' it from anyone else.
*It affects mainly older people - so it's not as important economically. Not 'cost-effective' to vaccinate.

But possibly more so than the repeated attempts at introducing an effective computer system into the health service?

Monday, February 09, 2009


Those icicles have disappeared this morning, and the pipe to the garage has thawed enough to let the (cold) water through to the washing machine. Seize the day, it could freeze again tonight. Small things lift the spirits! So I don't have to resort to 'Victorian Farm' style washing with dolly tub, coppers and mangles.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


The cold weather continues.

A while since I've seen icicles like these.

Monday, February 02, 2009


...and it's cold enough for me to leave my ivory tower, and bring my laptop downstairs, and put the fire on.
Blackbirds, starlings, robins, a pied wagtail, chaffinches and sparrows are practically knocking on the windows to ask for more food.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Back to nature?

Marta and I go for a walk once a week, at quite a pace, and put the world to rights, air our problems and commune with nature - then go and replace the calories we've used, and, possibly, ward off dementia by drinking coffee.

Yesterday took us to Thrapston, and the old gravel pits and then round the Titchmarsh lake. Probably about 5 miles in all. Our walk rewarded us with sights such as a lone heron waiting patiently for fish, and later, two swans, posing for a Valentine's Day card, as their heads and necks formed a perfect 'love heart' shape. Too far away to photograph, of course and the pose didn't last long.

Then a daytime fox walked close below the bird hide and ran off to hunt water birds. Again I was too busy watching to think of the camera.

Bright sunshine, a chill wind, muddy paths - exhilarating stuff.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another doodle

Written from a few prompts. In bold print.

Bad luck it’s a girl!
Now we’re in a world
without help for the task in our mind,’
My klone said to me
as we sat with our tea.
‘Using her’d be just like driving blind’

‘Oh come on,’ I replied
‘It’s time that we tried
to detox this here poisoned chalice.
No, don’t make that gesture,
dear klone, I request you
and kindly refrain from such malice.

For you may be male,
but that ‘k’ makes me quail
it means you’ve changed sex in the kloning.
A girl just like me
will be perfect, you’ll see.
Now button it. Stop all your moaning.'

Friday, January 23, 2009

Writing doodles

Two 'poedoodles' and no they're not crossbred dogs.

She walks and walks for miles to clear her mind
To silence killing cries from times long past
The winter crisps her fingers sharp as bone
With interwoven strands of mistletoe
Though times were hard, forgotten all her loves
Simplicity of purpose led her forth
Across a placid ocean she still stares
Transformed into a birch, stripped of her leaves
Within her icy veins no blood now flows.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Such long dark days when spring has not emerged
from winter’s chrysalis; when rain pours down
from darkened skies; and children go to school
encased in shiny coats. The drip of rain
the swish of tyres on road, an engine’s growl.
Across the road, a front door’s outside lamp
Still shines at way past ten, as though ignored.
The dirty blotting paper air sucks up
what light there is. No colours here to cheer
Unless I count the brightness slick and harsh
Of umbrellas grown like toadstools overnight.
Give me instead a tourist paradise,
of sun and snow and glistening mountain peaks.
No doubt I’ll find one on the internet.

Both (pretty much) in iambic pentameter with variations and no rhyme. Does it show that the very last line of the second one happened when I ran out of stuff to say? It doesn't matter - they're doodles!

And I've just noticed two much rain in the second one, as well. Ah well ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1911 census

No dark secrets revealed, no big surprises. Each of my four grandparents was exactly where I expected to find them, though with one or two unexpected people in their households.

Sarah Nuttall aged 24, was living at Penniment Lodge farm with her parents and younger sister. She was employed as a school teacher in the elementary school. Her 86 year-old grandfather, and five year-old niece were staying with them, and another school teacher was visiting. There were also two farm workers - a cowman and a horseman.

Alfred Shelton, aged 22, was working as a coal miner/hewer and living with his aunt and uncle in Stanton Hill.

Seventeen-year-old Lucy Briggs was in Albert St, Stonegravels, with her widowed mother, two brothers and a boarder.

Herbert Merricks, aged 21, was working as a pottery labourer in Chesterfield, and living with his father and mother in Queen Street. His brother and sister were still at home and there is a one-month-old Arthur Potts down as his parents' 'adopted son'. This must be a family connection through Herbert's mother, whose maiden name was Potts.

There's also a good very brief info piece on 1911 in the Guardian.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

I shoulda taken my tripod with me.

Another inside view of outside. I should get over being self-conscious about these shots and play the part.
And again - this would have been better as a closer mirror shot.
I quite like the fuzzy reflections here.
Through another cafe window
Harry disappears into the distance pursued by multi-coloured tadpoles.

Four pm at Leicester market.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

When gorse is out of bloom...

Here I am in the New Forest on New Years Day - kissing is not out of season as the gorse is blooming lovely. I'm showing off my real walkers' gear - gaiters indeed. Note the cunning mittens which open into fingerless gloves, too.

Snow and sun

I went out this lunchtime and retraced part of yesterday's walk. Snow still on the ground, though some places are green.

From the old track above the tunnel. I think that's my shadow on the hill top.
View across the railway to the Welland valley
one of many sheep
bright and snowy

Monday, January 05, 2009

Beyond Christmas

In Lyndhurst churchyard
Lyndhurst church
Colours in the water
New Years Day in the New Forest
Chloé, Sharon, (Silas), Harry.

Skating in Bristol - Dec 30th. Big rink and away from traffic. Mick, Chloé, Sharon.