Friday, 27 July 2012


We often forget that wildlife has a different perspective to us, we see our world through our eyes alone. But animals see things differently. 

While relaxing in the sun at the pub on Monday evening we discovered a spider had been weaving a web on a friends arm. We obviously seemed to pose no threat to this tiny creature and while sitting still my friend was just another piece of the spider's landscape. I can't help but think of the films and stories when people are looking for the dragon when they realise they're standing on it already, mistaking it for a mountain.

Peregrine falcons also see things differently to us. We see a city as a place for people with tall concrete skyscrapers being alien to nature. Peregrines see a large group of cliffs with ideal ledges for nesting and a good prey population (they love those feral pigeons). We only need to be reminded that there are more peregrines in Greater London than the Peak District to realise how good a city is for these birds.

On a larger scale it's easy to forget that wildlife doesn't see the boundaries that we do. We create nice little (or not so little) nature reserves, with clear borders within which nature flourishes. But wildlife doesn't really understand that within this safe circle they are (relatively) safe and outside they may not be. They might learn through experience if they live long enough but really there's a lot of luck involved. That's why it's so important to encourage all land use to be wildlife friendly, or at least wildlife considerate. Whether farmland, woodland, beaches or cities there will be wildlife living and needing a little helping hand. 

Stepping up again wildlife doesn't see our country borders as we do. There are some cases where wildlife doesn't have a choice. For example, there are few other rest spots on the migration route across the Mediterranean than Malta, but would birds try to make the whole trip in one go if they knew they might well be shot when resting on the island? Other cases if the wildlife knew about countries they might choose a different home. For example Scotland has vicarious liability laws (which hold land owners, as well as land managers, responsible for wildlife crimes)  and England doesn't. If this means that wildlife is less likely to be threatened then wildlife on the borders should shift up north for a better chance. But they don't know that, and there's no way to explain it to them. So we must continue to aim for the best protection for wildlife, everywhere around us. Ideally there would be patches of wildlife friendly land, and uniform sufficient legal protection everywhere. From my perspective (and I think also wildlife's) that seems like something worth fighting for.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Thoughts of Home

As we reached the Northamptonshire border earlier today I remarked
Well now we're inside the county we're bound to see loads of red kites straight away!
 This was only slightly jokingly but I wasn't expecting one to swoop over the road within seconds, which it did. Neither was I expecting to see eight in what can only be described as a flock coasting in circles over a field further up the road.

These fantastic birds (with a fantastic reintroduction story) are quickly re-establishing themselves as an icon of Northamptonshire wildlife, much like the cough's of Cornwall or bitterns from the Norfolk Broads to the Somerset Levels. It's great to see wildlife flourishing but with such wide ranges we need conservationists to use joined up thinking and land use to maximise their chances. The change in the weather since I last visited Northamptonshire is impressive (about 10 degrees warmer!) but in the last month and a half conservation issues haven't changed too much. Last visit I wrote about joined up conservation and how we could all help wildlife in a little patch of our garden. For a reminder have a read here.

Friday, 20 July 2012


When I was thinking about this blog I had planned to recycle an old post about recycled glass jewellery. But I cannot find such a blog, so either I have passed it by without noticing or I never got round to blogging about it. So, I recycle that idea into a new, different blog for the end of the week.

Lots of things can be recycled.

Wellington boots become chair seats,
car tyres transform into pencil cases,
plastic cups can be turned into pencils.

My favourite recycled products are almost always glass though. It's such a beautiful material to make things from and very versatile too. Hundreds of products are made from recycled glass and here are a selection I've found after a quick search online to get you thinking and whet your consumer appetites!

Drinks glasses,
and even the kitchen sink!

I'd quite happily buy any of these, but since my Reduce blog I've managed two days without spending any money and I'm going to see how long I can last!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Well today I was all set for taking bags and bags of old unwanted items to the charity shop. But as I got there I realised it wasn't open today! It'll have to wait until another day.

In one house I'm amazed how many things there are, particularly things that I had forgotten were here. Old presents, odd bits of fabric, even a few things we thought we'd thrown out ages ago.

My favourite reused item this week is a piece of Christmasy fabric a friend wrapped a present in for me a few years ago. It's been kept as a "I'll use it one day" things since then and during tidying I finally found a use for it. It's being turned into a pin cushion and also a needle book for all those sharp pointy sewing items I have lying around that should really be somewhere tidy and save. Since I do most of my sewing around the festive season (lots of lovely present plans already) it seems fitting that my sewing kit should have a similar theme. Picture will follow when they're both finished!

What can you find a new use for in your home this week?

Monday, 16 July 2012


We hear it all the time, the three R's; Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. For most of us recycling is now a habit. Glass, cardboard and cans all get sent away to become something new. For me reusing is easy too, in fact I tend to keep lots of things just in case I can reuse them at some point in the future. Whether it's old bits of fabric, leftover parts of candles or empty food containers I'll store them up. Sometimes I find a use for them, other times they sit unused and eventually recycled.

The part I find hardest is the reducing. Looking at our bathroom today I see at least a dozen different bottle of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and bubble baths. Not all mine, but more are mine than I really need or want. It's easy to buy new exciting small things, and then not notice them building up. So that's my new challenge, especially since we're having a bit of a clear out at home. Once all the old, unwanted things are taken to charity or recycled (and I'll try not to store too much for potential one day in the future reusing!) I'll try not to buy new unwanted or unneeded things. It's amazing how hard it can be to go a whole day without buying anything sometimes. But thinking about if something is really needed, as well as if it can be afforded or if it's eco friendly before buying is just as important.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Livingroom Wildlife

I would never count myself as a "twitcher" and I'm not sure I'd even call myself a birdwatcher, more of a nature lover but then sometimes, certain events make me wonder. 

For example, recently I was watching a news report from Madrid on television when I had to turn the sound off to check that the screaming swift noises were coming from the television rather than outside our house. I then noticed the swifts clearly visible over the rooftops in the background of the shot. I have no idea what was said in the news item, but bird watching from my living room probably means I have more than a passing interest in wildlife.

Speaking of swifts the RSPB is asking everyone who sees or hears them this summer to get in touch and help count and map swift numbers in the UK. Swifts only tend to make their distinctive screaming noise when they're close to nests and this makes it easier to find nests without actually having to see them. Unlike swallows they'll never be found perching on wires and can even sleep mid air! For more information about swifts see here and to complete the swift survey (whenever you see them or if you're missing your normal local swifts this year) go here.

File:Apus apus -Barcelona, Spain-8 (1).jpg

Monday, 9 July 2012

Hot Hot Hot?

Huge excitement this week as we discovered that one of the chilli plants has two chillies growing on it!!

They're not very big and I've no idea how tasty or hot the will be once they're fully grown but as my first home grown food (other than the lettuce from last autumn) I'm really pleased. So now we just need some more hot weather to ripen them nicely and for more to grow. But the rain and warm weather is still doing the garden good and you can see that the sweetpeas have started flowering in the back of the photo below - the pink patch!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Green Buds

The weather hasn't been great recently. We've had lots of rain but in between the storms it's been hot and sometimes even sunny. So, while it isn't great weather for bbqs it has been good for growing things. The garden's gone a little wild and everything's coming into blossom or shooting up to the sky so it's time to for a garden update.

The runner beans have little red buds on them and they've grown almost as tall as my shoulders. They'll need to grow lots more before they produce beans but it's looking good so far.

 The hanging baskets I made are giving the walls nice colour and being high up keeps them safe from slugs mostly too. With all this rain I haven't even had to water them either!

The two plants that have grown the most are the honeysuckle and the sweetpeas. The honeysuckle is taller than the wall now and will hopefully fill out and thicken before flowering later in the season. This should fill the garden with a gorgeous scent along with the sweetpeas which already have buds on. I'm really looking forward to seeing what colour the flowers will be. More garden updates soon!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Pizza Facts

Yesterday I was in Pizza Hut for lunch and I noticed a few facts up on the walls. Firstly, that all the mozzarella used is from Welsh cows. This sounds good. We all know that local food means less air miles, less emissions from transport and that's good for the environment. Supporting local (Wales is more local than most places we get our food from) producers is good for the economy too.

Many restaurants are now advertising when and where they use local ingredients, and it works because I often pick a meal because it uses those products. But it's much less often that you see a whole menu with details of where everything comes from. If it's not local the origin is rarely put on the menu. It would be interesting if they did. Then, like when I'm shopping, I could avoid ingredients which have been flown in from the other side of the world. Like the samphire (a very traditional UK salt marsh plant) that had been flown in from Israel for sale in a UK supermarket.

The other fact I noticed was that the only chicken used on the Pizza Hut pizza's is chicken breast. Now I've seen this in lots of places over the last few years and I can understand that it might be the best piece of the chicken, but what's wrong with the rest of it? If I'm going to eat meat (and I can't see myself becoming veggie any time soon) I'd much rather eat every part of an animal, maybe not all in original form (I love liver pate but hate liver) but I want it used and not wasted. So I'd be quite happy with non-breast meat on my pizza, and for those bits that really aren't that appealing I'd probably be quite happy with them as chicken nuggets.

So, two Pizza Hut facts, both of which the restaurant are proud of. But in my opinion, only one really green fact, the other a little wasteful really. What do you think?