Monday, May 07, 2012

...dawn chorus...

On Saturday morning I went to work at 3.30am, just as the pubbers and clubbers were going home.
The aim of my early start was to help lead a dawn chorus walk in the heart of Shrewsbury.
Watching the sun come up while listening to blackbirds, robins and many other birds sing their hearts out is always a magical experience; especially when the walk finished with a slap up breakfast at the Peach Tree Cafe!
Twenty-five people joined me on the walk, the youngest was 11, the oldest in their 70s. Many of the group had never done any wildlife watching before. I love these events and am always impressed that so many people turn up.
What a great way to start the day.

If you want to take part in a dawn chorus, visit the International Dawn Chorus Day website.

You can cheat and listen to the dawn chorus at anytime of the day with birdsong radio!

Friday, May 04, 2012

...planet earth playdough...

H wanted to wear his spiderman suit and make saltdough today. "Why not?" I said and we rolled up our sleeves, stuck out our tongues and got mixing.
I have a basic, chuck it in a bowl without much measuring recipe which is:
1 cup of salt
2 cups of flour
lukewarm water
food colouring, including turmeric for yellow.

H wanted a ball each of yellow, green and blue.
Then he pounced on them and mashed the three balls together, disappearing into a 3 year old boy's fantasy world of a dinosaur's tea party.
"Look Mum!" said H after a quiet moment "urff! Where we live."
Blimey. He was right. There in his hand was a playdough blob that looked uncannily like planet Earth.
I'm ashamed to say that I was a sad mother and leapt up, grabbed the dough and took many pictures before handing it back to become squashed into a dinosaur cake once more.

Here's the result. Isn't it weird?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

...rain and rhubarb...

The relentless warm rain makes the garden look amazing. The lawn is a rainforest and the rhubarb looks the happiest its been in ages. I cut the first crop of the year and made rhubarb and custard using a recipe from Hugh's River Cottage Veg Everyday!

My favourite way to eat rhubarb is stewed with orange juice and eaten warm with shreddies.
My mum loved that too. She was a keen gardener and loved growing food we could all tuck into.
The taste is so different when you've grown it yourself isn't it? Sunshine and soil.

Sadly my lovely mum died eighteen years ago, and there are still days when I miss her like mad. But by growing veg for my own family I'm connecting with her all the time and kind of filling that big gap. She would love my garden. So here's a bowl of rhubarb and shreddies to you mum, and absent gardeners everywhere.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

...power to the people...

Just got back from a lively Place Plan meeting in Shrewsbury.
It wasn't at all boring and there was no jargon.
(well, not much anyway)

What I liked about it was that developers (in some very sharp suits), local residents, local charities, gardening and allotment groups, ecologists and planners all got together in one room and talked to each other.

Meetings like this could potentially see the end of absentee development firms slapping large-scale bland development on local communities.

If more people get involved, Place Plan meetings could be the start of more useful relationships between smaller development firms and the communities that host them.
A lot still has to happen, but I could see the beginning of something better and a bit less shouty.
People might not like what the developers propose, but then at least we can openly and respectfully challenge it.

The residents of Corner Farm Drive were all there tonight making their voices heard. (Hooray!)
Oo, there were some meaty discussions going on in the Corner Farm corner.
A neighbouring community group came to say hi. We had a chat and shared ideas.
One of these ideas is to link our greenspaces together to make a really big wildspace round the edge of Shrewsbury.
The proposed developer thinks their new "Country Park" could be just 15 metres wide.
That should make for some nice long thin picnics.
Can you see how these discussions start?
The key thing here is that if local communities don't care, then the developers will only ever do the absolute minimum to get the maximum profit. Who can blame them when it's "good business sense".

Trouble is, it doesn't make good mental health sense, good community health sense, good natural health sense, good family financial sense, good long term or short term sense. But if no-one is willing to point this out, then we only have ourselves to blame.

CBT is a self feeding, sustainable idea. Get outside and climb a tree or have a picnic. Take your dog for a walk (clear up the poop!) or just sit in a greenspace and read. Fly a kite. Stare into the middle distance.  Please don't just look at wildlife through your window, you will lose it. It's real and needs you to value it.
I guarantee the magic then starts. More people will see you valuing your greenspace and think it must be OK. They join in. Talk to them. Start to record the wildlife you see, take pictures and share them with others. This is what technology is for.
Now, what happens if developers want your land? If enough of you have come together to protect your space for a long enough time, you can do things to look after it.
If you think you will need to compromise, then start now to put yourself in the driving seat. Make developers make your space even better in ways that excite you, not depress you. Hell, they'll even pay you to do it for them.