Monday, August 30, 2010
I spend a fair amount of time on trains, particularly commuting to and from work. When I don't have my head in a book I am often listening to or watching podcasts. I thought I'd link to a couple of my favourites here as I know that some of my readers share similar interests and might be interested in these podcasts themselves. I've linked to both the websites for the podcasts and also to the iTunes page, for both.
So first up: BWCACAST (Boundary Waters Canoe Area). This video podcast covers many of the lakes and rivers on or near the US / Canadian border and is filmed and produced by Bill Bryson III. The scenery is just spectacular, with commentary on the routes taken, as well as the wilderness hints and tips. I must admit to being envious watching these videocasts on the train, wishing that I was in the great outdoors. Highly recommended.
BWCACAST is available in standard and high definition versions. The iTunes link below is to the standard version.
The second of my choices is Encounters. This audio podcast is recorded and produced mostly by Richard Nelson, although there are some older episodes with other presenters. Each show focuses on a different species or habitat and looks in detail at it. Filled with detailed knowledge and references to other natural history writers and information this is another must listen in my opinion.
So sit down. Download and enjoy.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
I am sitting here watching the garden. I’m tucked up snug in our conservatory while the rain is falling on the Perspex roof. It always sounds worse than it actually is, a little drizzle sounds torrential, a heavy shower like a monsoon. Today we’re somewhere between torrent and monsoon, probably nearer the lower end of the scale.
I like just watching, I can see the birds coming and going. Just now there were four Long-tailed tits in the Birch tree, as well as a blackbird, magpie and sparrow. The Birch is quite mature, so I suspect it affords a degree of respite from the otherwise wet outside its canopy.
The rain means I won’t have to do much watering tonight, just the tomatoes. This year we’ve had a little more success that last including a variety of black-cherry. Yes that’s right black-cherry tomatoes, and they really are black, or at least a very, very dark purple and they have a magnificent taste. Simply go to the potting shed, pick one warm from the bush and consume. There is something wickedly decadent about eating a warm tomato straight from the bush, no third party involved.
I can see the subtle feather like leaves of our mimosa tree. When we first moved in there was one close to the garage, but it died back. I think it might have been struck by lightning; it has a suspicious dark line and split in the bark from top to ground. Now it just acts as a glorified bird feeder, home to a feeder full of nyger seed for goldfinches, who love it. Its replacement sits in a pot, only four feet high, and will probably stay in a pot for the foreseeable future at least.
Wet Sunday, watching the Small Suburban Garden.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I was reading an article in one of my gardening magazines at the start of the week about how “Big Society” could see gardeners banding together to care for their local parks and gardens. To an extent this already happens in many areas with “friends of” groups and volunteers who give up a little time to care for their local open space, nature reserve or public park. So I could see this happening, but I’m not sure that in reality the bulk of caring for such an area can be done by volunteers. Have managed parks and nature reserves in my time, there is more to it. There needs to be structure and planning which underpins any work, whether it is by paid staff or volunteers.
So I can see in the longer term that our local green spaces will start to decline, cuts in budgets will mean those bodies that have a responsibility to look after them will be able to do less. Potentially some may even choose an easier option of selling them for other means, e.g. development, resulting in their loss completely.
I then read an article in the Guardian “Plans to Sell off Nature Reserves Risk Austerity Countryside”, my heart sank. Once again the ConDem Coalition seems intent on budget deficit reduction against all else, with no thought to the impact and no thought of the consequences. I can see them doing it and I can foresee the consequences.
The mention of selling National Nature Reserves to private land owners, seems like an unworkable idea. I doubt there are many private landowners who would want to buy designated land with all the covenants for nature conservation that come with it. Yes perhaps you could give it away to a nature conservation body such as the RSPB or National Trust, but at the end of the day would they be prepared to take it on without a dowry for its long term care?
The result will be a decline in quality of habitat and deline in species numbers with perhaps even complete loss of certain species in some areas.
The more the government reveals about its programme of cuts (and there are more to come, according to Clegg the puppet), the more I see this country heading for the perfect storm of unemployment, recession, poverty, inequality, and rising health problems. I’m not a politician, I am just a mere human, in fear of redundancy and in fear that this Country that I love will be torn apart under the guise of trying to reduce deficit by a morally corrupt leadership, that cares for nothing beyond the wider realms of its own riches.