Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Peaceful Easter

Sunrise over wooded valley with pink tinges to the lavender grey sky as it meets the hills on the horizon
Easter sunrise 2020

The morning was cool and peaceful as I was looking out over our valley on today’s Easter sunrise. The strangeness of life in recent weeks has pervaded every part of human life, yet in some curious ways, it seems to have passed by the natural world: Nature has continued on her merry little way.

Our cultivated Spring flowers and flowering shrubs brighten our yards and gardens. The field outside my door is dotted with wild flowers – dandelions and daisies, with cow parsley and lady’s smock popping up along the margin. This year, these wild flowers won’t meet an untimely demise under the the local council’s mowing machines, as that service is one of many that has been suspended for the time being. Grass-cutting will for now only take place for safety reasons, near road junctions.

Easter flowers for 2020. Jug of daffodils and spring leaves
Easter flowers – Daffodils and Spring leaves

In the UK, we are now at that point in the year where the early Spring dawn is host to that incredible natural phenomenon, the dawn chorus. This morning, I was enjoying the glorious birdsong music of our neighbourhood bird choristers at 5.30am. If you are not naturally an early riser, it can still be a treat to the ears to listen in on your local feathered choir at some point between mid-April and late May. Whilst dedicated enthusiasts will not be able to join in public woodland events to experience the dawn chorus this year, even in urban areas you can tune in to your local dawn chorus simply by opening your bedroom window or standing at your back door. It is such an amazing sound. I am working on finding a way to share this with you.

For many of us, being able to connect with the natural world on our doorsteps is a huge relief, particularly this year with the very necessary coronavirus lockdowns. Nature really is a natural tonic for our mental health.

I hope you too are able to spend some peaceful moments with Nature. Stay safe in these strange times.

Peggy

Flowers for Friday: Dahlias

Dahlias are one of my favourite flowers. I look forward to their colourful blooms in the garden throughout the summer, bursting out of their large button-like buds.

Dahlias, front and back

I love the way the sun lights up both the crimson dahlia behind and the sunburst dahlia in front. I also love the way the light creates a fascinating green speckled shadow from the old green bottle that I chose for these flowers.

Peggy

Cee's Flower of the day banner
Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hot or Cold Things

Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome
Victorian railway bridge trimmed with snow in our local woods
Snowy sunrise in sepia tones
Snowy Sunrise in Sepia

Snowy views have inspired me for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Black and white definitely feels cold in the view of the Victorian bridge. But I felt that the sepia tones really warmed up the snowy sunrise looking across our valley.

Now I’m off to take a look at what has inspired others for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week …

Peggy

There’s football and there’s Fairtrade football

I don’t think I’ve ever written anything about football before. But you can’t live in North East England and not have at least a passing interest in ‘The Beautiful Game’. The rivalry is legendary between the fans of Newcastle and Sunderland, our local North East teams. Though, tonight, all eyes are on Wales and we are willing them to come through against Portugal in the Euro 2016 semi-final.

There is one key piece of equipment for playing football, whether in an international stadium like the Stade des Lumières, where tonight’s game takes place, or in your local park, school playground or on the beach. A football.

Today, I learned from the Fairtrade Foundation that you can now buy Fairtrade footballs – they’re emblazoned with the familiar Fairtrade logo that you see on Fairtrade coffee, tea, sugar or bananas. Bala Sport’s Fairtrade footballs are designed in Glasgow by Reflex Blue and hand-stitched in Fairtrade-certified factories in Sialkot in Pakistan. This is where 70% of the world’s hand-stitched footballs are made – 40 million of them every year.

Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea
My box of Clipper Fairtrade Green Tea. You can see the Fairtrade logo on the bottom right hand corner

Unfortunately, not all of these 40 million footballs are made under Fairtrade conditions. Many people who work in the football manufacturing supply chain are paid poorly and have very poor working environments. Bala Sport’s Fairtrade footballs are leading the way to change this. Fairtrade football makers receive fair wages and have safe working conditions. The Fairtrade Premium that is also paid, means projects such as extra health care or free transport can be provided, or even clean water for the workers and their community.

The Fairtrade Premium is a 10% extra sum of money that the factory or stitching centre can choose how to spend. But if more Fairtrade footballs were sold, this 10% extra would be an even greater sum and could do so much more for the football makers, their families and their communities.

Just imagine, if more schools, sports clubs or even families bought Fairtrade footballs. ‘The Beautiful Game’ could become even more beautiful 🙂

This Sunday, 10th July, you can see Fairtrade footballs in action in another positively life-changing project in Glasgow – The 2016 Homeless World Cup.

So, the next time you need a football, why not make it a Fairtrade Football?

J Peggy Taylor

Allotments: We Need Them Now More Than Ever

This is a ‘green issue’ that I really care about. Allotment gardens are meant for growing food, not for councils or developers to profit from. Here we have an incredible example of this in Bristol, where prime growing soil is set to be destroyed for a supposedly ‘green’ transport system! Bristol is also currently the “European Green Capital” and should be setting a good example, not going for green gimmickry whilst destroying a positive environmental project. Government needs to be protecting allotments rather than deregulating in favour of so-called ‘development’. Please sign the petition to “Help Protect the UK’s Allotment sites”. Thank you.
J Peggy Taylor

AGENTS OF FIELD

It’s a big week for allotment gardeners here in the UK. As Sara-Jane Trebar, who spearheaded the fight to Save Farm Terrace allotments (and won), launches a national campaign to help protect the UK’s allotment sites in response to the startling number of allotment closures over the past few years, campaigners in Bristol have taken to the trees in protest over the proposed MetroBus development that will destroy some of the most valuable food-growing land in the country.

SFT Farm Terrace Protesters. (Photo courtesy of Sara-Jane Trebar.)

Allotments, as we know them, have been part of our cultural heritage since the Victorian age when local authorities were obligated to allocate land to the common people, enabling them to grow their own food. They have remained popular since that time, with numbers peaking at times of national recession, such as during the Dig for Victory campaign and post-war years of the 1940s…

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What I’m reading this week

Behind the Brands

– a new Oxfam report on social and environmental policies of the world’s ten largest food and beverage companies and the quest for food justice for all.
http://www.behindthebrands.org/en//~/media/Download-files/bp166-behind-brands-260213-en.ashx

Screenshot from Oxfam's Behind the Brand website
Screenshot from Oxfam’s Behind the Brand website

World Development Movement

– background on the food sovereignty issue
http://www.wdm.org.uk/foodreading

Catastrophic Security Flaw Impacts Millions of Sites

http://techtalk.pcpitstop.com/2014/04/09/security-flaw-impacts-millions-sites/?heartbleed=
“Heartbleed is a major security hole in multiple versions of OpenSSL resulting in temporary information being stored in a site’s server memory after it has been unencrypted.” http://www.techlicious.com/blog/heartbleed-security-bug-may-be-worst-ever/
Techlicious recommends you use the Heartbleed Test website to check if your favorite sites or servers are still at risk.
http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

J Peggy Taylor

Foggy Frog… Matching Funding

Megan’s Foggy Frog campaign to help make invisible illnesses visible has now received a generous pledge from an anonymous backer which could be a brilliant boost to this great campaign … but there’s only 49 hours left on the Kickstarter campaign so please help if you can.

Many thanks.

J Peggy Taylor

Liveken - my chronic life journey

Yesterday we announced in our update on the Foggy Frog Kickstarter campaign that an anonymous backer has offered to match all pledges to the campaign up to $1,500 in the next 49 hours (was 72 hours yesterday).

image

This is great as it means that if you pledge today (or increase the amount you’ve already pledged) you’ll really be adding twice as much to the campaign. At this stage (with the matched funding – not on Kickstarter yet) we’re 62% funded.

Please pledge your support now by clicking here and selecting the “pledge my support” button (big green button) on the right hand side if the page. From there follow the steps to select your reward and pledge amount.

Remember every dollar will help us and we only have 50 hours left to reach our goal or we get nothing!

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Introducing Oak Trees Studio

Hello and welcome to my new Oak Trees Studio blog!

OakTreesStudio_Banner

Oak Trees Studio is my new Etsy shop. I opened my shop a few weeks before Christmas as the new face of my creative endeavours.   www.etsy.com/shop/OakTreesStudio

I am something of a nature nut and I love working with natural materials so it seemed a natural progression to develop this into a seedling of a business idea. My main aim through Oak Trees Studio is to share my love  of natural materials – from wool to wood and from hemp* to hedgerow treasure  …  and hopefully start selling the hand-crafted items I produce.

For my opening collection of hand-crafted items I have created some warm winter crochet beanie hats in real Yorkshire wool.  I absolutely love this natural un-dyed wool. The wools I choose are from small scale producers and the wool is all processed by hand and hand spun in North Yorkshire.

Brown_Wool_Hat_White_Stripe_blog copy

I develop my own original hat patterns and then I crochet the hats. Crochet is my favourite yarn craft. I learned to crochet as a child – many, many years ago – and whenever I yearn to create in yarn, usually I turn to my crochet hooks.

You may have noticed I added an asterisk * next to the word ‘hemp’ earlier. Agricultural hemp is an often-maligned member of the Cannabis sativa family. It is only a few years since it again became legal to grow agricultural hemp in the UK, though it has a long and illustrious history. This is a wonderful and very eco-friendly plant crop that I am sure to write more about in a future post. The hemp yarn I use is hand-dyed and comes in a myriad of beautiful colours.

That’s a brief peek behind the origins of Oak Trees Studio. I hope you’ll drop by again to see what else we’re up to here on the blog and you’re very welcome at Oak Trees Studio on Etsy too.

I want to sign off this post by sending my very best wishes to everyone who is taking part in the WordPress Zero to Hero in 30 days project.  What a great WordPress idea for the New Year! Thank you Michelle too!