It’s the fourth and final day of my camping epic. No wind last night (not outside the canvas anyhow), so no nightmares about the shopping bag monster. lots of dew drops on the tent, and with the sun shining on them looking up from the  bed it looked like a starry night above me. Downside to a sunny morning when within tent is that it heats up quickety quick. 

the 2.4’s over the way have started sqinny whinging early today. If I eat my ant infested cheerios loud enough I might just drown them out. As someone who has come camping in a remote ‘quiet’ site (I’m sure I can get trades descriptions involved here), I seem to have attracted the most ear piercing screachy kids for miles around. Irritating, irritating, irritating!

Sir! – get your whinging ankle biters as far away from me as possible NOW! I am trying to have a ‘moment’ soaking up the view and gain a feeling of general well being, I do NOT want to waste my time imagining setting the shopping bag monster on you all!

Swimming this morning at Freshers Bay (all on me own – I didn’t think it was that cold, got used to it by the time I was numb). Bus to Needles Battery. this bus route is an open top bus that travels along the narrow road along the cliff top. Great to sit there and listen to the mothers having kittens cos their kids decide to get up and look over the side of the bus.

Looked over the Rocket test area then wandered back across Tennyson Down. Settled down and contemplated the scenery across the English Channel. You don’t realise how noisy the world is with planes until you can hear nothing else ( no car noises where I was). It took nearly half an hour to get just 5 minutes peace without anysort of engine noise somewhere. I wondered if in 25 years time I return to the same spot, will i have to wait ages just to HEAR some engine noises?

‘Tis the evening, the last evening, and nothing but the evening. Despite the dog sh*t, noisy neighbours and nights so disturbed they put Sweeny Todd to shame, I have had a fab time. The thought of heading back tomorrow to bills, emails and Facebook notifications lies heavy on my soul. If only I could disappear for a few days more. 

Advertisements

The musings of a ponderous woman.


Tonight I was took a late evening walk, at the end of yet another rainy July day. Towards the end of the perambulation,  I was travelling along a path bordered on one side by shrubs and the other by grass. There was a migration happening, not of wildebeest but of slugs and snails, across the path from the shrubs to the grass. I don’t know why they chose to carry out this activity, perhaps they graze like cattle at night.

Being the animal lover I am, I trod carefully so as not to squish any, a common episode leaving an explosive mess of slug jam. I avoided walking on them not just to keep my shoes ‘jam-free’ but to actually avoid harming the little blighters.

But is it so wrong to kill a slug?

Slugs have been the downfall of my vegetable patch this year. Myself, along with thousands of other gardeners around the country, have a nightly routine of slug catching and a morning routine of groaning at the loss of yet another runner bean plant. With the relentless rain this year, I think we can definitely say that 2012 is the year of the slug.

But despite the loss of my precious hand-reared veggies, I just cannot find it in my heart to kill them. I have, until recently, resorted to beer traps, thinking that at least they will die happy, but the rain keeps diluting the beer. I hate slug pellets, a danger to wildlife and a no no in a garden hosting free-range chickens. I have had limited success with copper tape, until the plants grow too big to be contained within the ‘force field of electrical doom’.

I have, however, had some success with sweetcorn and tomato plants. Seems slugs and snails don’t like hairy leaves. (I feel an experimental cheaper alternative to copper tape in the form of ‘hairy stuff’ might be worth investigating). If we get another summer like this one, which I am sure that we will, grow sweetcorn and tomatoes guys, perhaps not the range of produce you might like, but at least it will still be there in the morning!

But back to the slugs. The other night (Sad story this) I was walking into town (rainy day again) and came across a slug going across the pavement. From it’s ‘what should be inside me is now outside me’ look (sorry if you are eating dinner), the slug had obviously been trodden on. Despite this slight set back, the slug was still determined to get across the pavement, and yes, it definitely had a look of determination on it’s face. I was rather impressed by this slug. It didn’t curl up into a pathetic heap awaiting it’s inevitable end. It was still adamant that it was going to finish what it had set out to so. Determined. Resolute. Dying. (yes, I know it was only a slug, yes, perhaps I am a tad too sentimental, or just mental).

So back to my original question – does a slug have a soul? A lot of people would argue that WE have a soul, or in-body energy presence if you like. Many would also argue that this is true of dogs, cats, horses etc. But what about sheep, or pigs? Does it ever cross the mind of Trevor the artic lorry driver at Heston Services that the full english that he is tucking into contains parts of a fellow soul carrier? Probably not. But why not? if we as living breathing animals on this planet can have a soul, why not a pig? or a rabbit? what about birds, fish, zooplankton? Where would one actually draw the line?

Slug

I have no intention of answering the questions that I posed. But I do think about the determination of that dying slug. Maybe he didn’t have a soul, but he certainly had guts!

well, day 13 into a 14 day ‘shop fast’. for someone who usually buys ‘bits and bobs’of food every other day, not a ‘once a month’ buyer, these last two weeks have been a bit of a challenge i.e. how to survive with what is sitting in your cupboard and not get anything in especially for the event. 

well

I managed to not buy any food at all apart from:

half a real ale at Cowes after watching red Arrows

bar of chocolate yesterday (bad day!)

tea and cake when meeting friend for a chat.

and that is all! I survived on courgettes in everything (pasta sauce, stir fry, curry, omlette), and had no margarine or cheese after day one! Something else I have noticed is that I have eaten virtually no bread – well nothing to put on it! Just about run out of squash, pasta and rice. fridge is empty apart from a lone carrot (that’ll do for lunch tomorrow!) and only porridge for breakfast. 

It’s been a good excercise, stopped me wasting so much food, especially fresh, and I seem to have just as much in the freezer now as I did two weks ago AND not a consumed tin of beans in sight! i’ve not missed cheese, or snacks. 

so

if you find that your cupboards are often full and struggle to fit in the weekly shop, go without for a few weeks. 

I AM looking forward to going to the greengrocers on Monday though. Courgettes and runner beans (growing in the garden) can get a bit tired after a time. 

Well, this is the fourth day out of fourteen of ‘not buying any food and living out of the freezer  / cupboards / what’s not gone mouldy in the fridge’ challenge. I have no cheese / butter or margarine / shop-bought bread / any ready meals whatsoever, and do you know what it is I am desperate to buy right now?  Chocolate!!!

I did have a little concession last night after a particularly stressful meeting by buying half a pint of lager. well, I don’t think lager is technically food, is it?

What had I been eating the last few days? Home-made hummus (using lime juice instead of lemon juice), olive bread (in the bread machine right now), pasta with mushrooms (now all gone) courgette and chopped nut sauce (very tasty), plenty of cereal, well, I have a reasonalbe choice of foodstuffs to choose from right now. There is a lone tin of beans in the cupboard which I hope not to have to delve into before my fortnight is up. 

 

What I am finding is that I am much more likely to rummage through the fridge and fruit bowl for fresh stuff, knowing that:

a) it will go off and have to be thrown away without being replaced if I dont eat it and

b) It’s healthy. 

Cookery books are pretty much useless as I cannot go out and get that odd piece of ginger, avocado, herring gull or whatever. I can get some inspiration from them but it all boils down to imagination. And resources. Wnd finances. 

 

Onwards and upwards!

Made some walnut bread (i have 3 bags of bread flour, and now no more shop-bought bread!)

In the process of making some banana and nut loaf (rest of bananas that were on the turn and some nut spread I had made several days ago). To be sliced and frozen.

What to have for my evening meal………..perhaps courgette sauce (vastly reduced grated courgette) on pasta and beans……. could be OK?

Dpes anyone else have a regualr ‘clear out’ of their kitchen freezer / cupboards / veg patch like this? I can see myself being forced to eat my ‘delectable’ curried marrow rings I made last year and have yet to emerge from the freezer!

Is it just me, or is mothers day (or Mothering Sunday as it should be called) turning into another Christmas and Easter retail extravaganza?
Way back somewhen, as a child, I remember making a card and perhaps a flower out of a toilet roll at school (in the days when kids never caught anything other than crafting skills from toilet rolls), ensuring mum got a cup of tea in bed (undrinkable as it probably was) and made her feel special for the day, within my capabilities.

Last Sunday was Mothers Day. Last Saturday, the town centre was PACKED, lots of dads (many on their own, so presume mum still had child care duties) with carrier bags of flower arrangement baskets, helium filled balloons, boxes of chocolates and teddy bears clinging onto a heart, which presumably belongs to another larger teddy bear. I mean, do we not think that our kids love us unless we get commercialised and overpriced stuff from the supermarkets with ‘I love you mum’ on the box / balloon / mug etc? Give me a hand made card with the letters scrawled out in felt tip any day. And a cup of decent tea!

Lois Prior

Normal 0 false false false EN-GB X-NONE X-NONE

Have you done your ‘spring clean’ yet? I expect this tradition came about after a winter of closed windows, smokey fires and muddy boots. In those days, carpets were not fitted and were taken out regularly to be hung over the line and the dust beaten out of them (along with curtains and sometimes furniture). With the advent of central heating and vacuum cleaners, perhaps the activity of the traditional spring clean has lost some of its original ‘oomph’ (a bit like buying a ready decorated tree at Christmas). At the first sunny Sunday in March, what we see now are troops of home owners battling their way through the nearest DIY superstore or garden centre to buy plants, compost and pots for their ‘insta-garden’. (Have The Sims taken over reality here?)

 

So what is the environmental and financial impact of all of this? Ok, well let’s start with the obvious – compost. Most compost and grow bags use peat, it’s cheap, looks good and grows stuff. What’s not good about it is that it takes years and years to replenish naturally – 1000 years for a 1 metre deep stretch, it soaks up CO2 and it forms the habitat for many wild flora and fauna.  Why not get peat-free compost, or even better, make your own. Unless you only have a window box, any sized garden can fit a compost bin in the corner somewhere. For composting tips, look at the Recycle Now website. For quicker composting results, buy some compost accelerator, or for a free option, use some wee (watered down). I’ve used guinea pig bedding, chicken droppings as well as kitchen waste cardboard, shredded paper, paper napkins in fact, anything made with something that was once of vegetable origin (not meat or fish). What I have 6 months later is as good as the stuff from the local DIY store that will break your back when you haul it in and out of your boot. Home ‘grown’ stuff is free, it’s good for the environment and it’s great for your garden.

 

Alongside the bags and bags of peat-based compost at the ‘local’ DIY superstore, the other thing that irks me is the selling of overpriced vegetable seedlings. The seedlings themselves seem to be the same price as buying the fully grown and harvested produce from the local farmers market. As well as the cost, they are often sold in polystyrene containers using peat based compost. It’s a lose:lose situation and an expensive way of feeding slugs and snails. I don’t know about you, but clearing the ground in winter, sowing the seeds in spring and taking care of them till they are big enough to take care of themselves is all part of getting in touch with your vegetable patch and with mother nature. Shoving in some mass-produced overpriced plantlets into the ground one frenzied weekend and expecting wonderful ‘best in show’ produce 6 months later just doesn’t quite cut it with me.

 

Lois Prior

alk for Cheverton Down Appeal

 

My name is Lois Prior. I am an environmental auditor and an associate of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment. For six years I was the auditor for the Green Island Project which was set up to create and promote environmental responsibility within the island’s tourism industry. I was a consultant for the project moving it’s development forward and for direct business support. I have been a visitor to the island since early childhood and moved here 18 years ago after falling in love with the way of life here, its history and landscape.

 

I would like to talk about what I feel are the impacts of having these turbines on the island, its tourism industry, its landscape and its community. I will also be talking about energy security in the UK.

 

With over 500 miles of footpaths and bridleways, I cannot imagine that there will be any significant impact, if any, on walkers using the island footpaths by having just one small section of pathway passing by just 3 turbines. Similarly, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival sees thousands of visitors and residents alike taking part. With a huge variety of walks to choose from located all over the island, will 3 turbines really put people off coming here?

The main event, the Walk the Wight Challenge, follows a route right across the spine of the island. Walk the Wight is a personal challenge for everyone taking part and a fundraising activity. I cannot imagine for one second that ANYONE would be so shallow as to refuse to take part on the grounds that they have to walk past three wind turbines, especially considering the fact that they already have to walk past the existing TV masts.

 

I think that guided walks to the base of the turbines would be a very popular walk in itself. This is reflected in the tourism questionnaire that we undertook on the island last year, where  76% of respondents stated that they would like to take part in a guided walk or tour of a working wind farm. Every year, Island Waste puts on guided tours of their waste processing plant. These tours are always popular and usually fully booked, and we are talking about a smelly waste plant here! Wind farms are used as tourist attractions elsewhere in the country. In Norfolk, the Scroby Sands Wind Farm visitors centre attracts 35,000 visitors a year. At Whitelee Wind Farm (Europes largest windfarm) near Glasgow, there were some 120,000 visitors to their visitor centre last year, more than four times their original estimates.

 

With reference to the issue surrounding visual influence of historic buildings, I would like to state that at least one of these historic houses closest to the proposed turbine site allows cars and other vehicles to park right in front of the property, yet these are not recognised by English Heritage or the protection officer at the Council that cars take anything away from the historic setting. Why are they worried about something that is being located 1.5 km away when modern cars are parked just meters away and in full view? Surely these have much more of a visual and audible intrusion onto the historic setting than 3 wind turbines located that far away.

 

The talk of how turbines will affect tourism has been discussed. I would like to ask if turbines in Cornwall has affected tourism there? There has been no evidence of this. I have also spoken to several proprietors of attractions and accommodation on the island over the years and what I get is a sense of despondency that the eco island that was promised has never actually come about. What they feel, and many others feel, is that we need to embrace the future, take responsibility for producing as much clean energy of our own as possible and have a very visual commitment to providing a sustainable future for our children and their children.

 

As the joke goes, ‘how many islanders does it take to change a lightbulb?

 

Change! What do you mean change?’


 

 

Energy Security

 

Energy security can be defined as the ability to obtain enough energy for own needs at a price that is affordable. This can be for a household, country or in a global capacity.

This depends on a resilient energy system, one that is capable of withstanding threats, with having a diversity in fuel supplies and using other sources of energy.

 

There are many threats to energy security, including:

 

 

·         Rising energy prices.

·         Threat of terrorism,

·         Instability in some exporting nations,

·         Fears of a scramble for supplies,

·         Geopolitical rivalries, (otherwise known as war)

·         Countries’ fundamental need for energy to power their economic growth.

·         Renewed anxiety over whether there will be sufficient resources to meet the world’s energy requirements in the decades ahead.

 

If we refer to the charts at the end:

 

 

Looking at the charts form the International Energy Agency. The first (A) shows energy production in the UK since 1972 to 2008. You can see there has been a fall in production since a peak in 2000. A fall in production is true for all the different forms of energy, except renewable.

 

The second (B) show UK nuclear power station production and this shows a decline since a peak in 1999.

 

Looking now at the flow charts from the report  ‘Digest of UK’s Energy Statistics 2010’ published by Department of Energy and Climate Change.

 

The next diagram (C) shows that the UK imports 68% of the coal that it uses. 71% of all coal use goes into electricity generation (power stations).

 

Chart (D) gas flow 2009 shows that 40% of the natural gas used in the UK is imported, of which 31%  is used for electricity generation (power stations).

 

The diagram of electricity flow chart (E) shows that in the UK, 39% of electricity generation comes from gas, 31% from coal  and  19% from nuclear. The diagram also shows that a total of 61% of electrical energy is lost through conversion, transmission and distribution. Taking into account the imported fuel sources previously mentioned, around 21% of our current UK electricity generation relies upon imports from abroad. This will continue to rise as our own fossil fuel sources gradually dry up.

 

The Energy Gap

 

The UK’s North Sea oil and gas production has been declining since its peak in 1999

In 2004 the country became a net importer of natural gas, and in 2006 it also became a net importer of oil

It is estimated that by 2020, 44% of the oil we consume in the UK will be imported.

To help overcome the UK’s reliance on imported oil, the government has set out a Low Carbon transition Plan which among other things is designed to find alternative transport fuels, including electricity. Without this, the importation of oil into the UK could rise to 47%, where Government departments states that ‘this will have a significant impact on the UK’s oil security’. Projections from the Department of Energy and Climate Change indicate that the UK’s net imports of oil are expected to increase over the next two decades, as indigenous production continues to decline.

 

 

 

UK’s nuclear and coal / gas power stations are getting to the end of their working life. The UK is  set to lose a quarter of its current generating capacity before the first new nuclear plant is built and it is not clear how that gap is going to be filled.

 

Energy industry report (2005) stated that without action, there will be a 20% shortfall in electrical generation capacity by 2015

 

The energy secretary, Chris Huhne, told the Observer a couple of weeks ago that the UK had no option but to speed up efforts to move away from oil. “Getting off the oil hook is made all the more urgent by the crisis in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go on relying on such a volatile source of energy when we can have clean, green and secure energy from low-carbon sources,”

 

February, 2010: A group of leading business people call for urgent action to prepare the UK for Peak Oil. The second report of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES) finds that oil shortages, insecurity of supply and price volatility will destabilise economic, political and social activity potentially by 2015. Peak Oil refers to the point where the highest practicable rate of global oil production has been achieved and from which future levels of production will either plateau, or begin to diminish. This means an end to the era of cheap oil.

According to the Summary paper ‘Closing the energy gap’ published by WWF and Greenpeace, the UK energy policy is at a crossroads. In the next 20 years around 30% of our conventional electricity generation capacity is scheduled to close. This will need to be replaced. At the same time the government is committed to delivering substantial CO2 emission reductions as part of the EU’s overarching climate change package and its own domestic policies. For example, the Climate Change Bill will require CO2 emissions reductions of at least 60% by 2050 and around 26% by 2020 (both from 1990 levels). However, the latest science is indicating that we will need to go much

further than this and make reductions of at least 80% by 2050 and around 40% by 2020. As the government’s 2007 Energy White Paper, the Stern Review and various other reports have shown, achieving these targets will require the rapid de-carbonisation of the electricity generation sector.

 

Fossil fuels and uranium are running out. Wind power will never run out! It is clean, it doesn’t need to be imported or processed, it doesn’t contribute to global warming.

 

I would like to show my full support for these turbines to be located on Cheverton Down. We cannot get  complacent about energy security in the UK. Relying on imports from unstable countries, ongoing unrest in the middle east and uncertainties of nuclear power production in the future after the recent catastrophic happenings in Japan are all factors in risks to energy security in the UK. The next 20 years are crucial as power stations are decommissioned and there will still years before new ones come on-line, and we are talking about nuclear power stations here. Nuclear power is not safe and it is certainly not clean. Just because we cannot see the pollution from a nuclear power station doesn’t mean that it’s not there. Cheverton Down already has planning permission for 3 turbines. By approving this appeal application, the new turbines will increase their power output by seven and a half times than that of the current approved application. We need to squeeze as much energy out of our low carbon power sources as we can. These turbines will be here for just 25 years, during which time new technological developments will take over and the land returned to its natural state.  During these 25 years, the UK will be facing ever increasing energy security risks. The world is changing, and we must change with it, or risk being left behind. So for the future of my children, and their children, I would ask you to take on board the issues that I have raised and approve this application.

 

 

If you would like the charts mentioned, please email me and i will send them to you.

  

Same goes for the references

I am sure that every single person who watch the tsunami engulf parts of Japan last week felt the same way I did – awestruck. what we were watching was a relatively rare event, certainly rare in such a populated area of the world (you can’t get much more populated than Japan). Could more have been done to prevent deaths? Probably not, apart from moving the whole Japanese population to the mountains, forever! What is even more disturbing (to some) is the risk of nuclear ‘meltdown’ and radiation leaks. Just be grateful that japan is an island nation and pray that the wind keeps blowing off shore from the affected power plants.

So why does Japan have so many nuclear power stations, considering it lies on a major earthquake zone? Japan far exceeds its own natural ability to create energy against its need. It has limited space for hydro, no fossil fuels to call its own and I presume no wind turbines because of the regular tremors. Nuclear was really the only option left for a country totally dependent on electricity to function at any level.

Let the events in Japan be a warning to us in the UK. We are now net importers of all fuels required for our own power plants, and we are heading into a new era of nuclear power stations to fill the energy gap being left by loss of fossil fuels and low carbon requirements. One clear aspect of energy security is ‘variety’ of sources (i.e. not putting all of your eggs into one basket). The world as we know it is changing. we have had our party time, chugging out CO2 and trashing the planet in the process. Now is the time to clean up the mess before the parents come home. So what are we doing? By relying on nuclear power are we just sweeping the mess under the carpet, to re-surface in years to come as a toxic sticky mess? I think so. I think we need to invest as much as we can into truley renewable energy sources. After all, you never get a ‘solar’ spill, or a wind turbine meltdown, nor will we run out of sun or wind. Ever. Lois Prior x

Tomorrow is the ‘official’ launch (hence the blog’s title) of the car-free schem which is taking place at the ‘Mission’ in Blackgang (see www.vintagevacations.co.uk). First thing in the morning I an on BBC Radio Solent for an interview with Julian Clegg (I say with, in fact we are miles apart, but use your imagination here…) followed by a press sort of soiree at the Mission at 10. Cakes and doileys at the ready, totally unprepared but, hey, I am used to living life by the seat of my very volumous pants!

Watch this space!

Flickr Photos

Green the Wight

Where to get a discount

October 2018
M T W T F S S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
Advertisements