Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wildlife watchers...

I was lucky enough to accompany my husband as he did some small mammal trapping with a local nursery school last week. Using humane traps that he uses to monitor and survey small mammals such as mice and voles, he took the children around the field carefully opening each trap in turn, hoping to find something to show them. It was wonderful to watch their little faces eagerly watch and wait...

This little woodmouse was in one of the last traps that we checked, we had a look at him and then released him back again. It is great to show children wildlife, to help them understand what they share their gardens with and how they should treat wildlife with kindness. I love doing things like this as children remind you to stop and wonder at the smaller things in life, whether its a mouse or a walk kicking leaves, it's all so important.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

a relaxing sunday...

...started with a trip to Bailey's Home & Garden, without the boys in tow! I went with a friend and we managed to spend over three hours dithering and fitting in lunch and afternoon tea!

Although I did feel a little guilty as I arrived home only to find the Mr. locked out of the house for most of the day as he had forgotten his keys!

They had these old printing block drawers (pictured), which I have bought and plan to clean it up and mount on my little boys wall for him to keep his farm animals in - what do you think?

Friday, 14 November 2008

Green spaces promote good health says study

Living in a green area can lengthen your life, according to research published on the 7th November 2008, which shows that the difference in life expectancy between rich and poor shrinks among those who live in an environment with parks and trees.

Richard Mitchell, from Glasgow University, and his colleagues, found that the gap between the numbers of deaths of people on high incomes and the numbers of deaths of those on low incomes in green areas was half that compared with figures relating to built-up areas. Green spaces, classified by the researchers as "open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation", encouraged people to walk and be more active. But exercise in these settings could have greater psychological and physiological benefits than exercise elsewhere, the researchers said.
The benefits potentially go beyond exercise. Studies have shown that being around green spaces can reduce blood pressure and stress levels, and possibly help people heal faster after surgery.
A number of researchers have looked at the effects of greenery on our wellbeing, the paper published in the Lancet noted. But few studies had looked at whether living in green areas reduced health inequalities, the Glasgow team said.

Using information from a land-use database of 2001, the researchers split the pre-retirement population of England into four groups according to income level and deprivation, and five groups according to access to green space. They then looked at mortality data for 2001-2005.
They found that the inequality in mortality from all causes relating to income deprivation was less in those populations in the greenest areas compared with the figures for people living in more built-up places. They found an even stronger relationship when it came to deaths from circulatory disease such as heart conditions and stroke. There was no difference, however, in deaths from lung cancer.

The researchers wrote: "Published work suggests that green space might affect health by inducing beneficial physical activity, and by ameliorating the response to stress. Physical activity and response to stress are components of the cause of circulatory disease and reduction of these factors might have contributed to the lower inequalities that we recorded in greener areas." They concede that there are potential weaknesses of the study. They cannot know, for instance, the quality of the environment or whether everyone in an area gets equal access to the green space.

But the team said that altering the physical environment was an easier way to combat poor health in deprived areas than using media campaigns or giving out information on health. "The implications of the study are clear: environments that promote good health might be crucial in the fight to reduce health inequalities."

but we knew that anyway didn't we?

Monday, 10 November 2008

Are you too green?

This article really made me smile, it was in yesterday's Sunday Times and written by Ruth Tierney. Somehow I felt better about not being as green as I should be when being an 'extreme green' is presented as a compulsive disorder like this...!

Are some of us so hell-bent on saving the planet, we're actually losing our minds?

Picture the scene: you’re at a friend’s house and have just dined on sustainably fished Cornish mackerel with organic flower and kohlrabi salad, when the host excuses himself. But instead of heading to the bathroom, he slips out the back door. It could be the Fairtrade wine going to your head, but you could have sworn you just spotted him undoing his flies in the garden. Hang on a minute, there’s steam rising from the lawn. “Harry’s doing his bit to save water. No flushing needed, you see,” explains his wife, as you pray the flowers in your dinner weren’t home-grown.
Unappealing it may be, but this scene is being played out in this country’s more extreme eco-households. Hessian shopping bags and recycling boxes no longer cut it for these greenies, whose environmentally friendly behaviour is bordering on the bizarre.

They have been identified as “carborexics”, or energy anorexics, in a report that found evidence of a whole gamut of strange behaviours masquerading under the eco label. Aside from urinating on the lawn, carborexics re-use Ziploc bags for up to a year, weigh their household waste, and eschew heating in favour of layers. They’ll routinely sleep in huddles to keep warm at night, toss biodegradable nappies on the vegetable patch and try to spend less than £500 per year on consumer goods. The temperature in their homes will often be less than 16C in winter, and many run their cars on waste oil. Failure to be as green as could be leaves them wracked with disproportionate guilt.

“My husband and I are so energy conscious we went without heating of any sort for four years,” says Penney Poyzer, a 48-year-old TV presenter and author, who lives in Nottingham. “We’ve just installed a wood-burning boiler, so now the challenge is foraging for wood — we recently took 40 pallets from a building site. I’m not embarrassed to say that we unearthed most of our furniture from skips, or that we pee on the compost heap. Many of my friends go in a bottle at night, then pour it on the garden come morning.” Before you dismiss Poyzer and her husband as eco-warriors: she’s actually a glossy haired brunette who loves nothing more than throwing a dinner party (albeit at a table rescued from the refuse), while he’s a sharp-suited architect. “People are often surprised by the lengths we go to,” she says, “but we’re devoted to nature. Being green is our passion.”

Passion? “Try evangelism,” says David Zucker, a partner at the public-relations firm Porter Novelli, which has just carried out a study into the phenomenon in the United States. Zucker reckons up to 7% of Americans fall into this category, dubbed the “dark greenies”. “They believe the future depends on them, and see themselves playing an important role in our collective salvation,” he says. “Some of them see their role in avoiding disaster as being so crucial that they tend towards extreme and intolerant attitudes regarding their own and others’ behaviour.”
“Being green has taken over my life,” admits Madeline Carroll, 28, from Stroud. “I feel constantly guilty about the state of the world, and I inflict that guilt on my boyfriend, too. If he doesn’t use the eco setting on our washing machine or refuses to re-use one of the freezer bags I’ve washed a zillion times, I freak out. I really infuriated his parents recently when I went round there and turned off all the switches on their Sky box, TV and DVD. It took them an hour and a half to re-programme everything, but I couldn’t sleep knowing they’d left them on standby.”

Georgina Firth, a 34-year-old PR from Hove, experiences similar pangs of disquiet if she doesn’t stick to a strict eco code. “I’m so worried about the ozone layer that I’ve turned my fridge off. Now I line up my milk, cheese, yoghurt and vegetables on my balcony. Even though there’s every chance the seagulls will eat them.”

Dr John Morgan, a consultant and lecturer in psychiatry at St George’s Hospital, London, can see a darker force behind the zealous actions of carborexics. “Being green is associated with moral goodness,” he says. “Obsessive-compulsive disorders often occur in perfectionists who are drawn to a moral cause. Two hundred years ago, that obsession might have been with religion — now it’s with the environment.” Spreading the word is also an important mission for them. “They have strongly held beliefs on how a company should act, in terms of ethics or energy efficiency,” he says. “If they perceive a firm is misbehaving, they believe it should be ‘punished’ by being avoided, and spread the word about these sinners to their social networks.”
But could those intent on saving the planet really be in danger of losing their minds? It’s unlikely, says Paul Wheble, a cognitive behavioural therapist at the Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma at King’s College London. He points out that such behaviour only qualifies as a disorder if it interferes with a person’s life, leaving them unable to study or work, or by causing their relationships to break down.

Nevertheless, carborexia does seem to be more than a passing fad. “An obsession like this comes to define a person,” says Morgan. “If you go to the nth degree with this, it’s going to be difficult to shake. For many, this will be a life-long pattern of behaviour.” A word of caution for alfresco urinators in it for the long haul — the grass isn’t always greener.

Ten signs you're too green
1 You use old bath water to boil your pasta
2 You are brilliant at dressing in the dark
3 You only flush for number twos
4 You once served up roadkill to guests
5 You re-use empty crisp packets as wrapping paper
6 You consider hats and organic beer to be central heating for adults, as in, “drink yourself a sweater”
7 You think your compost heap is a great design feature
8 You buy vintage underwear
9 You’re experimenting with silk worms
10 You smell similiar to your organic window boxes (when not in bloom)

Friday, 7 November 2008

what inspires you...?

Lovely Amy over at doobleh-vay is doing a series 'it's friday i'm in love - inspire me' and has asked a bunch of people what inspires them, me included!

I don't think I have had to think so hard and for sooooo looooong for AGES! but this is what I said and today it is posted...

"It is difficult to choose just three things that inspire me, as I am a magpie, taking inspiration from everywhere... catalogues, holiday brochures, and country living magazine! So I have chosen three things that inspire me the most!

1. I work for a wildlife conservation charity, so am very inspired by nature and the countryside around us. As a family we love having 'adventures' such as stream dipping, picking elder flowers to make 'hedgerow' champagne and 'wild' swimming in rivers and streams with fish tickling your toes. We try to get outdoors as much as possible, what ever the weather, and it is my children's interaction with nature and wonder that inspires me to take photographs, I didn't have access to the countryside like they do when I was growing up so I when I look through the lens, I am discovering things for the first time too.

2. My second inspiration would be for 'Old things' or vintage things; old furniture, vintage suitcases, camping in canvas tents, enamel flasks, knitted tea cosies, baking cakes, art deco furniture, Enid Blyton books, classic Georg Jensen silverware, steam trains, afternoon tea. I love the simple way of life we had years ago and the fact that children could roam the countryside without a care. I have some vintage things that have been handed down to me and I have things that I have bought, but I display them and re-display them at home all the time. I love using items like this as 'props' in pictures, my enamel flask should have a blog of it's own!

3. My third inspiration is something a lot easier, it is my fellow bloggers and flickr users. In the strange virtual world that we live in, you meet people the other side of the world with the same values as you, leading their lives with the same worries and the same daily chores! I stumbled across flickr about 18 months ago after reading a book called 'The Happy Campers' by Kat Heyes and Tess Carr – that I wish I could of written! Kat is a fantastic photographer and illustrator. I am also a huge fan of Amanda Blake Soule of soulemama fame who reminds me through her daily posting the importance of family and daily life and keeps me grounded so I don't let work take over! I also love Jen at Nectar and Light who inspired me to get a very old Polaroid {see photo above} out of the garage and take part in her monthly photo trade. This usually challenges me to go outside my comfort zone of taking pictures of my children and look at things in a different way! Finally I would like to mention the lovely Ella Pederson of Little Red Caboose- her crafts are as beautiful as she is and I love the adventures she has with the gorgeous little A! There are so many others too numerous to mention, taking beautiful pictures, sharing wise words and each making a difference to someone on this very small planet we share!"

Check out Amy's blog for many more inspiring peeps and in the meantime let me know what has inspired you today?

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

remember, remember...

"Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder, treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot"

Guy Fawkes (13 April 157031 January 1606) sometimes known as Guido Fawkes, was a member of a group of English Roman Catholic terrorists who planned to carry out the Gunpowder Plot.

Robert Catesby was the lead figure in thinking up the actual plot, Fawkes was put in charge of executing the plan due to his explosives experience. The plot was foiled shortly before its intended completion, as Fawkes was captured while guarding the gunpowder. Suspicion was aroused by his wearing of a coat, boots and spurs, as if he intended to leave very quickly.
Fawkes has left a lasting mark on history and
popular culture. Held in the United Kingdom (and some parts of the Commonwealth) on November 5 is Bonfire Night, centred on the plot and Fawkes. He has been mentioned in popular film, literature and music by people such as Charles Dickens and John Lennon.

Monday, 3 November 2008

out of control...

out of control, originally uploaded by Emma Bradshaw.

sometimes motherhood is all about being out of control! I couldn't save Jenny the horse from the yoghurt, sigh... or my children from the yoghurts that their dad let them choose! ah hum!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

buy nothing month...

Melissa, the author of the green parent magazine and blog is extending the "buy nothing day" into a "buy nothing month". This concept fascinates me as despite the best intentions in the world I seem to be quite materialistic, which shames me. These are my excuses...

I am a working mum, I don't always have time to cook and prepare meals from scratch in advance and if I did I wouldn't get a lot of chores done at the weekend or spend time with the children. Sometimes convenience = sanity!

The boys get given lots of gifts and invited to parties and I feel obliged to reciprocate.

My husband doesn't always share the same values and will often go for the convenient option - like fish and chips!

I always fall for the 2 for 1 offers in a supermarket and always walk out with more food than I need or went in for (this is why my husband now does most of the shopping!).

Things always seem to happen, chimney leaks, car breaks down , school trip needs paying for...

I am quite relieved - and whilst it is always a painful process to list your faults, I am quite relieved that there are none that are insurmountable - well apart from the car breaking down! So with the weight of the credit crunch on my shoulders {we have just remortgaged - owch!} I too am going to look at our lifestyle and start to make more changes and learn from Melissa as she blogs this month. I think I will start by using up all of our store cupboard provisions and have a lean food month, this will make us appreciate Christmas's little luxuries all the more!
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