Saturday, 12 June 2021

What Matters Most of All


It feels weird that the G7 Summit is taking place in my home county of Cornwall.

It feels even weirder that I am not there.

Because there is so much to protest about.

And we may not have the right to peaceful protest for much longer as the Government attempts to bring in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, 2021.

Even though we didn’t manage to get there this time, it is heartening to see the imaginative banners, slogans, sculptures and singing being broadcast from Cornwall by Extinction Rebellion amongst others.

Carbis Bay is a beautiful place and this is the most beautiful time of year.  If we don’t want these wonderful things to be damaged beyond repair, the G7 leaders must act rapidly and decisively to halt climate catastrophe.  As individuals we can contribute by changing our lifestyles, but only government policies are capable of bringing deep change swiftly.

So whether you are in beautiful Cornwall or not, do pray that our leaders open their ears.

Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill – please help your planet

Please follow the links below (which will take you swiftly and easily through to your MP’s email) and ask your MP to support the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill which will be debated during this session of Parliament.

Find everything you need to take part here:


Photo credits:

Photo above comes from a group of pics by: Gareth Morris, Guy Reece, Jessica Kleczka, Tristian Herbert, Chris Jerrey, Joao Daniel Pereira.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

All our Christmases came at once


One of the worst days of 2020 for me was when we decided to comply with the sudden rule change and not have the twins home for Christmas.  It wasn’t great for them either.  It meant that the last time the whole family had been together was a day in early October when we celebrated my birthday at Kew.

I tried to have a sense of proportion – as a family we haven’t suffered any Covid death. My work has decreased as a result of Covid, but Nigel and the children are all in jobs.  We’ve been very lucky.  But even so, I did miss seeing our children.

For me this has opened a window on the way WWII was for so many – feeling sad but determined not to grumble as it would be disrespectful to others who had sustained much greater losses.

However, although I had tried to cultivate a balanced outlook, when, finally, after eight months, we all got to spend the weekend together, it meant a great deal. 

Excellent weather gilded the weekend.  As we walked in the countryside, the hedgerows were at the peak of their loveliness with their lace trim of cow parsley and stitchwort, and beyond, the yellow rape flowers Van-Goghed the fields.

But I would have been happy, even if it had poured down.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Back in the Jug Again

Nigel was on the wrong side of the law again on Thursday, at City of London Magistrates Court.

Back in September 2020 he got arrested as part of the Extinction Rebellion Protest outside the Houses of Parliament.

The occasion had been the first hearing of the Climate and Ecological Emergency Bill, tabled by Caroline Lucas.  It is an attempt to take measures to stem irreversible climate catastrophe but the Government is against it.   By protesting outside parliament, the hope was to appeal to the consciences of MPs so they might support it.

Nigel sat peacefully in the road and refused to move onto the grassy area where the police were containing protesters in circumstances which made Covid social distancing almost impossible.

In court our lawyer tried out some new tactics and arguments.  Nigel, as always, pleaded ‘Necessity’ – he did something a bit wrong in order to prevent a greater harm – i.e. global heating and the deaths of millions.  But, the judge was disposed to find Nigel guilty.  His sentence was a suspended fine.

However, we got hit with high court costs – a new way of deterring Climate Activists from peaceful protest.

The Government plans to make things even harder with the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill, 2021, currently being rushed through Parliament.  It means that next time Nigel (or anybody else) sits down in the road as part of a peaceful protest, he could be given a ten year prison sentence. 

Due to climate factors, we have cut out air travel to foreign countries.  But this monstrous Police Bill will give us the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in Hong Kong or mainland China!

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Exam Season

 It's not the exam season - it's the teacher assessed grades season. The children are not sitting exams but assessments.

My memory of this time of year is having to choose between the streaming eyes of hayfever and medication which made me fall asleep.  I chose hayfever.

Nowadays the medication is much better.
However, what has not changed for the pupils is that this is the most beautiful time of the year, intersecting with some of the most exciting years of their lives and  here they are stuck in an exam room.
 Sorry, an assessment room.

And yet, most pupils don't really wrestle with a subject until they approach exam revision.  Maybe having that hard-won feeling of mastery over an area of knowledge makes it all  worthwhile?

 Certainly when I asked that question in class last week, one pupil said yes.

And for a class full of teenagers that is a high percentage of positive responses.

Photo by Museums Victoria on Unsplash

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Making the most of Dystopia

The last person time I went into London, before the Winter Lockdowns, it had been to meet Annabel.

We had an interesting day and couldn’t wait to do it again.

Except Lockdown meant we had to!

We finally met again on Thursday.  Had we waited one more week, museums and galleries would have been open. One more week and the streets would have been more buzzy.

However, we would have missed a slightly surreal day drifting around the unpeopled City of London, and picking out its history.

Outside the Guild of Cutlers’ hall, we admired a beautifully executed frieze showing the art of cutlery making and were given free guide books by a (probably bored) custodian. 

A Norman Foster building was being refurbished and we tiptoed across a flower-bed in order to press our noses to the glass and examine the amazing green wall being installed in the atrium.  Seeing a man inside watching us, we thought we were about to get in trouble, but instead he let us in and told us all about it – turns out he was the project manager.

It was easy to find an outdoor table for lunch, and to take our time.

Even next week, people in the City will not be at leisure as they were on Thursday.  It will return gradually to frenzy. 

So I’m glad we took the opportunity to explore Dystopia.

I identified a possible Covid health risk here.

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Naughty Wildlife

Wildlife is good and we should make more space for it.

That's the mantra.
And of course I agree with it.
However, wildlife doesn't always respect our boundaries.

We love our garden and have designated areas for wildlife, such as the pond, the bird feeders and the bug houses. But recently some animal has been failing to read the signs - our lawn is dotted with yellow dinner-plate-sized patches.  The grass is dead where something has been weeing on it.
Similarly my parents love feeding the birds and keep the bird food in the side passage inside a sturdy plastic bin whose lid is secured by two strong rubber bungees.  Lately, at night, something has been efficiently removing the bungees and eating the bird food. 

We don’t think it’s a robin.

Our unruly specimen of wildlife turned out to be a mangy urban fox which marks our lawn as its territory.  Since it has also been seen bringing its cubs round to salivate over our pet doves, we felt less than amicable and moved the bird bath which used to help it jump our fence.

 When my Dad met their burglar, however, it turned out to be a very winsome badger.  Dad sounded rather charmed by it.  Perhaps I should see if I can get on the internet and buy them some badger food.  They can keep it in that handy plastic bin.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

I guess you had to be there

I always visit the bluebells with my walking buddies. 

Except last year the Lockdown rules kept us apart. We WhatsApped eachother photos of blue woodland floor, but it wasn't the same.   

However, this year we were able to gather for the stunning annual flooding of the woods with a tide of bluebells.  Carol led us to a small, far-flung wood that was not infested with other bluebell-peepers.

And so we were able to add one more photo to the already high stack of pictures of 'Us with bluebells'. This year's variant was 'Us with too-long hair with bluebells'. Our priority had obviously been getting out to the woods, not booking a hairdresser.

There is also an annual event we don't aim for but which happens anyway. More often than not, I am with my friends when we spot the first swallow. It happened again this year and as the wispy dark shape sped over our heads, we made the annual joke about 'one swallow doth not a summer make'.  

I guess you had to be there.  

And that's the point - after a long Lockdown, now we can be there.