Friday 28 August 2020

Climate change - what can I do about it?

Grow your own, Alfalfa seeds sprouted on wet kitchen roll.

Did anyone else find the extreme heat this year alarming?

Floods, melting ice and extreme temperatures are all reminders that our planet is warming up and unless we actively do something about it millions of innocent people will die. 

Sometimes we feel helpless. What can we as individuals do?
Actually quite a lot.

We need to stop using fossil fuels like oil, gas and carbon. Planes can't fly without them. So we need to stop flying and instead use public transport to get around.

 We can think about giving up our car or using it less or if we need a car, exchanging it for an electric car or, better still, a bike.

We can switch to a 'green' energy provider that uses clean and renewable energy. Or we could create our own energy with solar panels on our house.

As consumers we can support companies that act green and shun others that don't. We can put pressure on governments and companies to act greener.

We can avoid food and clothing that has flown across the world. Avoid unnecessary air miles. Look at labels.

Eat with the seasons from food grown locally. Grow your own if you can and share what you grow and encourage others to grow their own too. If we can't be self sufficient individually imagine how self-sufficient we could be if we act as a community.

I read that cattle are one of the highest emitters of CO2 or methane . In fact according to a bbc article if all the cattle in the world formed a country it would be the third highest producer of greenhouse gases after China and the USA. So stop eating meat and dairy or decide to cut down.

We can lessen our personal carbon footprint dramatically by cutting our animal protein consumption.  Eating mostly vegetarian as many people are doing now is healthy and considerably cheaper.

My daughter has taught me to avoid any food whose ingredients list palm oil ie most biscuits. Trees are cleared to make way for palm oil production so we need to cut demand for it.

Cooking from scratch and baking our own food is creatively satisfying and healthier especially when cooking for children. They don't know how many vegetables we are hiding in a pasta sauce and they love it!

It also makes sense to shop locally for clothes from charity shops. I find that once I've washed and ironed something it's mine. I don't care how many people have previously worn it!

Doing some or all of these things to stop climate change can save us money, make us healthier and more creative while at the same time saving the planet. It's a win win.

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Tuesday 25 August 2020

Alresford, Hampshire. Worth a visit

Inside Long Barn store on the outskirts of Alresford
Candle display in Long Barn
The Fulling Mill on the Millenium Walk
Steam train station

Map of Alresford

A friend and I went to Alresford yesterday. It was magic!
Having a shop for 8 years and being its only employee made me a bit of a hermit. I feel I'm rediscovering the place I live now.
Yesterday we parked at the Long Barn, a big store with cafe just outside the town. It reminded me of Anthropologie. Nicely styled, good quality products. A good place for gifts.

Parking in the town where there are still lots of little independent shops, you stroll down the hill past pastel painted old houses and turn left for the Millenium walk along the river. The water is crystal clear and you can see why the area is famed for its watercress, a plant that needs lots of clean water. Such a nice walk for children with little shelters in case of rain and water just asking to be paddled in. 
Further on there are lots of ducks on the water and you can buy bags of oats and seeds to feed them with.  This house (pictured above) is soo jigsaw pretty and has a fine history. It straddles the water and I wonder how it feels to live in it.

We had tea and a piece of cake at Tiffin where we felt completely safe on distanced tables. What's more, it being a Monday, £10 was knocked off the bill thanks to the government scheme to help cafes and restaurants.

Then a walk up to Alresford station where the steam trains go between Alresford and Alton. It's closed at the moment due to Covid but most children would love to go on one of their Thomas the tank engine days when the volunteer staff dress up as the Fat Controller etc.
I can't wait to go back to Alresford with my family.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Painting flowers

Painting flowers
Busy bee
Clear river at Steep

Sunday 16 August 2020

Retail therapy

Watercolour flowers I painted yesterday
Pretty fabrics in Cabbages and Roses window
For the garden
New improved masks I've made this week

A strange week. Waiting for the rains that never came. Sharing the angst of students who were disappointed with their exam grades. Hoping that voters in the States will not vote for Trump this time around. Seeing a rise in Covid cases and the panic to get back on British soil of holidaymakers in France who had to be home by 4am (what a stupid, arbitrary time???) or else be forced to quarantine themselves for a fortnight. And witnessing through the media the struggle the whole world is experiencing in a pandemic.

I guiltily retreat into playing with my paints or reading (currently The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel). I feel I should be doing something practical but I don't know what. I am lucky I remind myself to have a roof over my head and enough money to buy food. But what about the desperate souls in flimsy boats that need to be given asylum but instead are turned away. They need practical help. I feel bad that this country which has so much isn't hospitable to those who want to live here. 

I am using this blog to exercise my right to Free Speech. But many aren't as lucky. The protesters the world over that try to be peaceful but are met with bullets or tear gas. When I was a teenager I thought the answer was to have a World Government to co-ordinate resources and help one another. Now, in my old(er) age I think that is not youthful idealism but something urgently needed especially now when the whole world is fighting the same illness.

This week, for the first time since March I visited Midhurst, my favourite place for charity shops. It was so nice to relax in a quiet little place with very few people about and to find some bargains for the family. A bit of normal. Although some shops are still closed I do admire the Caroline Bloomfield shop in West Street for carrying on and providing the best place to browse. Just beautiful things and a tonic for people like me to see them...

Did I mention that a kind gardener near here puts out a box of surplus produce with a sign saying Please Help Yourself? That's how I came by black beans for the first time. As he said they are easier to pick because they show up well against the green leaves. So I've bought some seeds for my garden hoping they do well although I know I've really missed the boat for planting them... Maybe with our mixed up seasons it doesn't matter any more when things are planted...

Have a good week readers.

Monday 10 August 2020

Let’s paint

Painting flowers with watercolour
A first attempt at watercolour flowers
Spotted - a Red Admiral butterfly
Sweet peas for sale

England is not used to this heat. 35 degrees and too hot to go for walks. So today I've been painting. Just experimenting with watercolour pencils and paints. I do enjoy it but feel guilty about not getting enough exercise. Perhaps tomorrow will be cooler...

This heat is a reminder that global warming is with us now. Our governments need to act to bring down our carbon footprint to stop the planet getting hotter and hotter each year.

i hope you are managing to stay cool.

Thursday 6 August 2020


Heron flying. Photograph taken by my daughter as we walked along the canal near her home.
Spotted in Wendover
Beautiful red apples in someone's garden

The upside of lockdown for me is discovering how much I enjoy walking. Walking alone or walking with a friend or members of my family - it's always just so nice to be outside and to be able to appreciate Nature.

I've been staying with one daughter and, as we walked we saw a heron camoflauged on the opposite bank. As we approached it flew and my daughter took this beautiful picture. I don't think I've ever seen a heron in flight before.

My other daughter and her children have been staying this week and they love Petersfield. We discovered a playground with a zip wire. We saw a box of black French beans outside someone's house with a note to Please Help Yourself. We did and they were delicious for supper that night. Plus we bought cottage garden flowers that my daughter chose from my favourite place to walk to -The Harrow Inn at Steep.

I hope you have good 'Sights' to walk to near you and that you enjoy your week.