A Garden Visitor

Good afternoon everyone!

So today we have a visitor in the garden, still there actually, enjoying the sunlight on top of our summerhouse roof. Its a rare treat, as the only other fox anyone in the family remembers coming through was many years ago.

What amazes me is just how sensitive this fox is, as we only have to start talking near the window and almost immediately you can tell from the ear twitches and especially the eyes that it’s paying attention. Makes you wonder what it must be like to have ears like that.

IMG_6864

I have a feeling its part of a family I’ve seen around at night a few times, though this is the first I’ve seen of them in the day time, as the only other time I’ve seen one in the day was during a short walk with my girlfriend in a local park.¬†Regardless of whether it is or not, it was an unexpected pleasure to have.

Have a good day all ūüôā

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Much Ado About Waste: How Our Supermarkets Knowingly Waste Good Food!

Howdy Folks!

Just now I’ve finished watching the second episode of¬†Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s “War on Waste”, a show that¬†brings into the spotlight just how badly clothing and food is wasted, food wasted mostly by the supermarkets. It was a truly eye-opening couple of episodes that brought the sheer scale of the problem into sharp focus, and also how we cannot trust our supermarkets to do the right thing or believe that what they do say about food waste.

You’ll undoubtedly have noticed my header image is of Hugh standing in front of a huge pile of parsnips. Those are some of the rejects from a farm he visits during the course of the filming.

To give an idea of how bad it is, the two episodes show:

  • What a pile of 7 tons of clothing looks like, with that amount being thrown away every 10 minutes in the UK.
  • A farm shows just how much of their harvest goes to waste, with one pile in the show they do rough maths to realise that the pile could probably fill 280 large shopping trolleys, from that single farm. The farm goes out of business during the filming of the show as they have been running at a loss.
  • The same farm shows Hugh a large number of altered orders, with original orders being made the previous day with revised orders being filed the next morning, cutting the order by huge amounts which causes issues as the vegetables had already been dug up in order to be ready for collection.
  • Morrisons make a pathetic show of an experiment to show that customers buy the better veg, but due to using courgettes that were soft it was clearly rigged to fail and afterwards Hugh has a discussion with the managers who simply spend most the time smirking and not taking anything seriously.
  • Morrisons also threatened the farmers Hugh talked to during the filming, telling them to bury the issue, as they were trying to avoid having the interview in the first place.
That’s what seven tonnes of clothes looks like. Source: http://www.radiotimes.com/news/2015-11-02/hugh-fearnley-whittingstall-why-we-desperately-need-a-rubbish-revolution

Those are just a handful of points. One observation I would make though, is that if they really wanted to do a fair test on the sale of these supposedly aesthetically different vegetables, they should have bagged the good and the bad in the same bags together and seen if anyone actually noticed. If nothing else, the spare could be packed, frozen and shipped to places that are going hungry, not just in the UK but anywhere.

It isn’t just the supermarkets of course, we also need to try and recycle and use as much of the food we buy as possible. Try not to take the sell by dates too literally, and judge for yourself whether the food is good or not. Also, try finding recipes for the leftover food you have, you might be surprised what you can do with it! If I have supper at night I’ll actively look for anything that’s going out of date, and hopefully that way spare it from later ending up in the bin.

I personally try to waste as little food as possible, and really don’t mind if something looks a bit odd or isn’t entirely as good as it could be, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me. Having also gutted a fish and a deer during my time at scouts or cooking in general I also appreciate not wasting food from a sense of doing justice to the animal as you’ve had to kill it in order to eat it. Being an environmental student just makes it even more stark just how wasteful it is when much of this food could go to the needy.

The programs for Hugh’s War on Waste can be watched here!

If at this point you feel as strongly as I do about the amount of waste being created by our supermarkets, then follow this link, and tell Hugh that you want to see an end to this level of waste! https://wastenotuk.com/

Thanks as always for reading all, after all, issues like this matter!

Environmental Policy Diploma!

So, feeling quite chipper at the moment!

The other day this certificate came through the post. Its an Environmental Policy Diploma, and suffice to say it is my first certificate from the Open University and proof that my time studying is beginning to pay off.

In my time studying with the Open University I’ve been lucky enough to focus on modules that have allowed me to explore the frankly huge topic around the environment, and more precisely on the parts that interest me most, both generally around conservation and the correct application of policy and more specifically¬†such as reintroduction, socio-economic impacts and repairing ecosystems.

Still, I have a bit more work to do yet before I earn my degree, though with the reassurance of getting my diploma it doesn’t feel quite as far away. Now then, I think I have a CV to re-write…..

Have a good day all ūüôā

Thistle Seed Tinder

Howdy all!

So today is just a short entry on what I’ve been out to do today. With the weather being as good as it was I went out in the hope of finding some tinder¬†for fire lighting. Suffice to say what I was looking for was quite specific, thistle seeds. The picture I used for my header image is the Tupperware box with the seeds in, it feels like fine fur in that quantity.

Now thistle seeds are what make a good initial catch for the sparks. They burn readily and that gives you an opportunity to make kindling like dry leaves, grass and leaves catch fire. Suffice to say it took me a while to get the knack of making a fire in this way, but thanks to some excellent instruction on a workshop at Sherwood for precisely this my Dad and myself got it lit.

It certainly helps to have two people blowing to keep a constant supply of oxygen going to the bundle of dry vegetation in your hands to get it going, but once I got the hang of how to regulate my breathing I began to have success alone, and that was satisfying to say the least!

I’ve linked a video to show you what happens when you hit just a few of these with a flint and steel. Video credit goes to the owner of the channel, Jan Jarvis.

That’s that for this article, hopefully it won’t be long before my next one, I’ve missed writing these.

Seriously Weather?!

Afternoon All!

So for those who don’t live in the UK or maybe aren’t aware, yesterday we had a record-breaking temperature for a July day in the UK, with the hottest temperature recorded reaching 36.7¬įC at Heathrow, though I imagine the sheer amount of air traffic that flies through there probably didn’t help matters. Just to put that into perspective, these records began around 1880, or if I quote a BBC article “When someone says ‘since records began’, they probably mean ‘since about 1880’.”

Going to the gym was certainly a relief, with the air conditioning going and fewer people in the evenings as usual, it meant that, for once, I actually left cooler than I’d been going in! It was especially relieving as I woke up with a minor case of heat rash (I’m quite sensitive to heat and sunlight) and bad sleep, despite having my windows wide open and light covers.

The reason I’m writing this article today though is to offer some ideas on how to keep cool, or at least cooler than you could otherwise be. While drinking cold drinks and switching on a fan can help there are other small things you can do to reduce the impact of the sun on you and your home without too much effort.

  • Keep the windows that are letting the light in covered, preferably from the outside.¬†Trying folding cardboard boxes out into their flattened forms, or ‘nets’ like from maths class. If you fold them out so you get good long lengths of cardboard you can cover the windows and prevent the suns rays getting in your rooms in the first place. If you don’t have any boxes try popping into a supermarket when they’re restocking the shelves later in the evening. They’re usually more than happy for you to take some. Another thing to do that is similar, though not as effective, is to close the blinds/curtains on the side of the house that is getting the intense part of the sunlight.
  • Have a drink near the bed at night, if nothing else it’ll mean if you feel dehydrated during the night you can just reach down for it instead of waking yourself up more by going to get it from the kitchen.
  • Have salads and other cool meals that don’t add to the house temperature from cooking or making yourself warming once you’ve eaten. Also on a humid day this means less water vapour around thanks to boiling veg on the stove.
  • If you have a shower before bed don’t make it too cold, from experience your body tries to compensate if you get too cold which means you do end up getting warmer later on. Of course if you go to sleep easily usually the cold shower might last long enough for you to get to sleep, so I’ll leave this to personal preference. However a mid temperature shower can wash away the sweat and make you feel better in bed, so there’s that!
  • If noise doesn’t bother you or you have a quiet fan, they make a difference to the temperature by helping to blow the sweat from your body. It might not reduce the temperature per say, but it can make the difference, or of course you can try blowing the hot air out through a window with it!
  • Finally, try wearing as little as possible. I personally wear a t-shirt and comfortable trousers then slip something light on over the t-shirt to protect my skin if I go outside. At night, consider making do without a cover or just stay partially covered.

I hope some of those ideas helped, and for now I’m off to get (another) drink, hope you enjoy the weather!

Breathing A Sigh Of Relief!

Howdy Folks!

I feel bad that I haven’t posted on here in a while. Writing essays for university has a way of eating your time for sure, but now I have some time before my next modules start I decided to give some time to pursuing my interests. Though what gave me the idea for this entry was Becky’s bucket list. Having known her a for quite a long time a lot of what turned up on it didn’t surprise me, travelling has always been an aspiration of hers, though it has inspired me to write about what I aim to achieve in the next few months before I start university work again.

Archery

Archery is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, I was practically brought up on the outdoors and having gone to Sherwood from a young age Robin Hood was always a story that wasn’t too far away. The bow is a fascinating tool, as while it builds strength in the arms, can be used for sport or hunting and even as a fire lighting tool, it is a very simple concept being a bowed piece of wood or other material with a string between the ends. There’s also an elegance to the bow, something that I feel is somewhat lost with the crossbow

My goal with archery is two-fold. The first is to find a range to go to where I can practice and learn more about archery in general. The second is to use that experience to choose a bow for myself, as although I know I want a recurve bow the amount of draw weight that would suit me is something I have no idea about yet which is why finding a range to practice on first would be ideal.

Fishmonger

I’m not so sure how easy this’ll be to work out, though I’m hoping to volunteer¬†at a fishmonger to learn to prepare fish properly, partly due to outdoor interests but also as I appreciate that its easier to eat healthily when you can use ingredients that are as fresh as possible.

Why fish though you might ask? Well, fish are good for the brain, and the only food I’ve really had issues with eating before was fish due to a paranoia about bones. Volunteering in a fishmonger would be an opportunity to do the work myself and also learning to de-bone fish properly would help me to not worry as much again. Well, so long as I can do the work myself anyway!

Ears Syringed

I’m pretty certain at this point, and have been for a while, that I need to get my ears seen to. My hearing has always been a bit dubious as what other people seem to be able to hear I couldn’t, which can only really be put down to the wax in my ears. In the past I’ve intended to get it done only to forget to keep up with the ear drops. This time I’m going to do a straight two weeks with the drops and have an appointment ready so I can finally get it done. While its a small thing on the whole, its something that needs sorting and so I’m giving myself every opportunity to remind myself.

Random Other Things

What has amused me though is that, new things to try seem to pop up out of nowhere, like today I saw an article on the BBC about there being a shortage of blood donors, especially younger ones. So I’m now looking to make an appointment for my first ever blood giving.

I’ve also been generously lent the first three series of Game of Thrones to watch,¬†which I’ve been warned can be quite confusing at first until you get to know the various characters and the plot, though it’ll make a change to have a show that’s not as predictable as usual!

I think I’ll leave it there, thanks for reading and I hope you all have a great day!

Making a Bucket List

I have recently re-watched a favourite film of mine starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called ‘The Bucket List’.
The film is heart-warming and inspiring, and it has spurred me on to create a bucket list of my own and that is what I have decided to write about.

For those of you that don’t know, the term ‘bucket list’¬†stems from the rather sombre saying ‘kick the bucket’ which, in case you don’t get the connection, is a metaphor for death. So basically a¬†bucket list is meant to be a list of things you want to do before you die. You don’t necessarily have to refer to it as a ‘bucket list’ if that is a bit too grim for your liking, but since the release of the film the popularity of the term seems to have increased.

I want to stay away from old childhood wishes like going into space and getting super powers¬†or anything which is either very unlikely or nigh on impossible to accomplish. Not that I’m saying you shouldn’t try to achieve things you dream of, but I want to be realistic with my own list. I don’t particularly earn a huge amount, so putting something like ‘owning a private jet’ or ‘buying a mansion’ probably isn’t¬†achievable unless I win the lottery.
However, I have been pretty good at saving my money and due to my fascination with travel I think a lot of sightseeing will be on my list. Some of my travel related goals so far are below:

Travel

  • Swimming with dolphins –¬†This may be a bit¬†clich√©, but I have always LOVED the thought of swimming with dolphins¬†somewhere warm and sunny and therefore it was the first one that I added to my list.
  • Visit a ghost town – The¬†deserted kind, not the supernatural kind. There are many ghost towns in America, but you can find them all over the place from Germany to Japan. There’s something about a place that has been left untouched and abandoned for years that is both haunting and fascinating to me.
  • Visit a Japanese or Chinese temple¬†– I adore history, and though much of it can be disturbing there are stories that can be uplifting too. As such, I have always been attracted to cultures and places with a lot of history, and I would love to visit some of the shrines¬†and historical sites in either Japan and China due to the fascinating back stories and oriental architecture.
  • Have authentic French cuisineWhen people talk about good food in other cultures, France almost ALWAYS comes up. Being a complete foodie myself, I feel like I should visit France and sample a bit of the French cuisine just to see how good it really is…
  • Visit another country during a festival The Diwali Festival, aka ‘Festival of Lights’ just looks absolutely beautiful. Although I’m sure the flights would be horrendously expensive and the country would be heaving with people, I definitely like the idea of visiting this festival or any other big festivals while they are happening just to experience celebrations that differ so much from our own.
  • Travel alone –¬†This is a difficult one for me and I debated over actually adding it to the list. I am fully aware of the fact that travelling alone can be dangerous, and this somewhat puts me off. But I try to tell myself that, depending on the place, I’m just as likely to fall prey to ill-will in my own town as I am abroad. I’d probably want to learn some form of self defence first, but it would be such a good experience to go on a short trip by myself.

There are also other things that I would like to put on the list that are not travel-related. I think sometimes people forget that you can include aspirations for things you want to achieve as an individual as well as just things you would like to experience. For example:

Self Improvement

  • Learn to speak another language¬†Okay, I can understand the odd few words of French, but I have always wanted to pick a language and learn enough of it to be able to get by and¬†have a basic conversation. The only issue is trying to think of which language to learn. I was thinking of German due to speaking with¬†German colleagues at work, but maybe after¬†travelling¬†a bit I will find a place that I like enough to learn to speak¬†the language.
  • Write a short novel¬†–¬†Creative writing has always been a hobby of mine, though I go through phases where I don’t write at all. I would like to at least finish one short story in my life that others can read. Whether its published or just something that I print off for my family to check out.
  • Sing to an audience¬†–¬†Singing, which you may have noticed from a previous blog post of mine, is another of my hobbies. I quite often get compliments and my¬†Granddad¬†has offered several times for me to sing folk songs with his band.¬†However, I am very shy and often can’t stand to sing in front of my own family¬†unless it is when they are busy doing something and aren’t particularly listening to me . However, I would like to try and¬†sing to a small audience at some point in my life. Even as back up vocals or part of an a cappella group.
  • Take at least 3¬†courses to learn new skills¬†I often get pamphlets on extracurricular courses that you can take over the space of a few weeks or months as something to do in your spare time. From woodworking and electronics to cooking classes and dance groups. I just love the idea of learning new skills and picking up tips that can help with life in general.

At the end of the day, the items on a bucket list should be attainable¬†and some of mine¬†are things that I could probably do within the next week if I wanted to. But that’s the whole idea. It shouldn’t be things that you put off doing until you’re old as you never know what could happen around the corner¬†– it’s just a general ‘to-do’ list of wishes and you can start working on it ASAP.¬†For example, I’m already planning a trip to Japan with a friend.

I’m a person that weighs up the pros and cons of almost everything, and I think long and hard about things and therefore I can take a long time to get things done. Or at times, I can even talk myself out of doing something at all if I dwell on the negative. However,¬†I am very stubborn and once I set my mind on something I try my best to achieve it.
I hope by making this list it will encourage me to step out of my comfort zone and just DO it.


Thanks to Pizap.com for the stock image and editing software for my featured image and to www.journeysaremydiary.com for the screenshot from The Bucket List that I used as an overlay!

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