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begin to fall……..

a melancholy descends and embraces our thoughts. Summer is drawing to an end, days are getting shorter and darker, winds blow colder, and the outlook is generally pretty miserable.

There is still much to admire in our open spaces, particularly if crisp nights have allowed leaves to turn beautiful shades. But, the warm weather we’ve been having recently means the leaves aren’t anything to shout about. Unless, of course you want to draw attention to the poor way they are being managed in the park this year.

leaves Nov 14 IMG_20141030_090654

The park operatives have been instructed to blow leaves off the paths onto the grass and shrub beds at either side, and so far have been leaving them there to rot. When the leaves are crisp and dry, they easily get blown back with the next gust of wind making this a Sisyphean task more suited to someone doing a spell of community service (and even then the value is questionable) than someone employed at tax payers’ expense. After rain, the leaves form a thick layer of rotting sludge which will kill anything trying to grow underneath and will take a long time to degrade.

On a recent work day, loads of leaves were collected up over several hours by volunteers, and this was from just one section of the park; they were piled up at the side of the pavilion and taken away by park workers a few days later. But this enormous task is not one that can be done by volunteers on a regular basis. This used to be a job that the council workers regularly carried out (in the good old days, before the council imposed cuts in services earlier this year)  - the leaves were collected up, taken away, and the park looked clean and tidy.

But, cuts in budgets don’t have to equate with a decline in standards; there is more than one way to skin this cat. There are actually benefits in leaving leaves where they fall, although they  must first be cut up into tiny pieces, as New York State’s conservationists have found here. In terms of cost, using a mulching mower might be no more an expensive activity than frequent leaf blowing. A financial benefit might even be derived from selling excess mulch to the public.

Leaves left on the ground, whether on paths, grass or in shrub and flower beds aren’t just an eyesore. They stifle and damage new growth and also act as perfect camouflage for dog excrement. It’s difficult to quantify how much dog mess there is to be found in leaves on the ground, because it’s so hard to see it!! But, instances of people treading in the stuff have definitely increased, as I can attest, and is also evidenced by the dirt on paths.

Some of us may remember the Spot the Ball competitions popular in newspapers in the 70′s and 80′s. Well, the difficulties of finding dog dirt in leaves makes me think that a Spot the Poo competition might be the next big thing in Stockport parks. Have a go at Spot the Poo in this photo:

Spot the poo IMG_20141101_084150

Unlike the aforementioned Spot the Ball competitions, the object has NOT been removed from the photo. The challenge is not to guess where it was, but where it actually is!

There are health and safety issues here: dog faeces can cause toxocariasis in humans; and searching for dog faeces, bent double for prolonged periods of time, can cause back problems and eye strain.

My message to the council is: Please reconsider your policy of not collecting up leaves blown from paths; gather leaves up, remove them to be composted off-site, or, use a mulching mower in the park. Do not make it difficult for dog walkers to clear up after their dogs.

And while you think this over, enjoy listening to some old and new songs inspired by Autumn Leaves:

Eric Clapton’s Autumn Leaves

Ed Sheeran’s Autumn Leaves

It’s great to receive contributions to this blog. Here are Catherine’s latest thoughts:

birmingham-115734_640

(Picture of Birmingham courtesy of Pixabay)

At the moment, biophilic cities are a small group.  There is only one in this country so far, Birmingham.

Birmingham has, according to hearsay, more canals than Venice and more parks than Paris.    This will come as something of a surprise to those of us whose who have recently stared out across the elevated section of the M6 which dissects the city and seems to traverse a landscape more derelict and exhausted than Mordor itself.  But Birmingham is the only biophilic city in the UK so far.

Biophilia is a term coined by E.O. Wilson, from Harvard University in the US, to describe the extent to which homo sapiens needs connection with nature and other forms of life.  He is described as a myrmecologist, myrmecology being the scientific study of ants and their complex interactive networks.  Research on large colonies of ants (and huge flocks of birds) seeks to throw light on the evolution of complex social systems.  The concept of biophilic design in urban regions is becoming a fascinating field.

More on the concept and evolution of biophilic cities can be read here.

Cities embracing this concept so far are Milwaukee, Phoenix, Portland, Oslo, San Francisco, Singapore, Wellington, Vitoria Gasteiz (in the Basque country), with Birmingham pioneering the idea in the UK. 

Our lovely park would surely be a key part of the development of any such initiative locally.   The clincher in establishing the popularity of the concept will surely be the phytokinetic buses.  This idea is classical in its simplicity and elegance and utility.  I suppose genius always is.  How drab and ludibrious is the 192 on the A6 in comparison?  Wake up, Stockport Council!

More knitting news

How the time has flown!

The last post about knitting and knitters was way back in January. Since then, the group has continued to flourish with attendances of around 10 to 12  most weeks. The weather has been very kind this year and Knitting Friends in the Park was indeed an appropriate name for the group with as many as seven sessions spent enjoyably knitting and nattering in beautiful sunshine.

The group celebrated its third birthday on 22nd August with a ‘bring and share’ lunch in the pavilion. It was a little bit like an Annual General meeting with the ‘boss lady’ giving a short but heartfelt thank you to everyone for their attendance and donations. The money raised so far (in the three years) is a whopping £1335.78! The third project is going to be something in the pavilion – probably an adjustment to one of the windows to allow daylight in. Unfortunately all the windows have been obscured, for security and practicality, and there’s no view to the outside. But, there might be way to open one of them up.

Knitting projects have been varied, with a variety of garments, accessories and toys making their appearance.

This little chap was made by Sheila:

Shaun the sheep IMG_20140124_101651

and whatever the group gets for him will be added to the donation pot.

This amazing crocheted blanket was made by Jane for her daughter to take to Uni:

Jane's blanket IMG_20140829_104606

something that will remind the lovely Lydia of home and her mum’s love.

And then there’s been Kathy’s project of hats for the Open Arms Village in Kenya.

Kathy with hats IMG_20140801_121110

It’s quite amazing how generous knitters can be, especially when it’s something for children. Kathy mentioned the project to a few friends and neighbours, as well to the Knitting Friends. In just a few weeks, a fabulous total of 252 hats, 20 jumpers and quite a few cardi’s were made and given to charity volunteers to take to Kenya.

Another charity ‘event’ was the Macmillan Coffee Morning organised by the Knitting Friends on 26th September.

Macmillan 2014 IMG_20141009_220915The knitters managed to knit, crochet, bake, make tea, coffee, sell cakes and generally have a good time while raising £153.20 for a very worthy cause.

There is a lot more that could be written about but, actually, if you’re able to, come along one day to meet the group and find out what they get up to.

You’ll have an ideal opportunity on 31st October when the Knitting Friends will be holding an Open Day. There will be an exhibition of items knitted and crocheted as well as a few bits and pieces for sale. Drop in between 10 and 12 for a chat and some refreshments.

Celebrating fungi!

Today is UK Fungus Day! Yay!

The British Mycological Society, which interestingly is based locally in Manchester, in association with academics, the OU and others, is holding events this week-end. Read more about it here.  The nearest event to us is in Denton, organised by Tameside Greenspace, starting at 1pm, and it’s free. They’re calling it ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ and it’s being held at the bottom of Cemetery Road in Denton M34 6ER. No need to book, you can just turn up.

Now, I like fungi and usually see a few in our park, but this year hasn’t been very good for specimens yet. I saw this little group last year:

fungus 1 IMG_20131021_154956

Maybe you’ll have more luck :)

The Savoy Cinema on Heaton Moor Road is a well-loved but sadly, increasingly dilapidated, local landmark. One of the last two privately owned cinemas in Stockport, it has a special place in all our hearts.

There’s many a fond memory lurking in those bucket seats – the special treat as a young child, illicit teenage dates, escapes from domestic chores, sleeping through films with grandchildren – if only those seats could speak……

Regular cinema-goers continue going to the Savoy because they want to support this local business. We turn a blind eye to the orange 70′s upholstery – this is no imitation of retro style, it’s the genuine article complete with cigarette burns in the velour and redundant ashtrays between seats. But the seats are comfortable and the price of tickets much less than you’d pay at the nearest multiplexes. And the best thing is that it’s local, within walking distance for many Heatonians.

Every so often we hear of the owner’s intention to sell the cinema. There has been talk of changing it into a large pub or maybe even housing. Now, it seems that it is again being offered for sale. But, this time a group of local business people and residents have got together and come up with a fabulous proposal to buy the building and change it into a cinema and arts centre. Sounds brilliant!

Read more details about the proposals for the Savoy Arts Centre here  - I would encourage you to sign the petition and offer your support – this could be a wonderful community space for us all.

The big snail count

snails IMG_20130816_083726-1

 

A nationwide survey has just started which aims to raise awareness of the link between mollusc activity and the risk of lungworm, Angiostrongylus vasorum,  in dogs. If you live in the UK, you can take part by doing a timed count of slugs and snails in your garden or local park, and uploading your results to facebook, instagram or twitter (Jungle for pets). There are even prizes for the best photos.

Lungworm is a small parasite that can infect dogs, foxes and sometimes badgers, with fatal results. When ingested, the parasite works its way around the host’s body ending up in the heart. If left untreated, the host’s health will deteriorate quite rapidly and can result in death.

Dogs become infected after eating slugs or snails carrying the lungworm larvae. The lungworm in the dog travels through the dog’s body and is excreted in the dog’s faeces. Slugs and snails eat the dog faeces and ingest the lungworm, and so the cycle continues……

Evidence from the Royal Veterinary College shows the lungworm parasite has spread across the UK from its traditional habitat in the south of England and Wales, and is now widespread in central England, also reaching northern regions and Scotland.

If your dog is determined to eat slugs and snails, there isn’t much you can do to stop him but if you are worried about lungworm, your vet can advise you about preventative products. You can try to prevent accidental ingestion of slugs and snails by putting your dog’s garden toys away at night, regularly and often cleaning your dog’s outdoor water bowl, and clearing dog faeces away. There is more information about lungworm here on Bayer plc’s ‘Be Lungworm Aware’ web site and also on YouTube, here.

 

Visit from Mr Bush

Heaton Moor Park is proud to announce,  even boast, that Mr Bush has arrived and intends to stay awhile.

No, not George W  or George H W but another Bush, who I do believe also goes by the name of George.

Mr Bush introduced himself on Saturday during the work day. He was made most welcome by the Friends; Sally, in particular, took a shine to him and helped him to settle in. He will be staying in the park for some time and hopes to bring a smile to the faces of all who see him.

Mr Bush IMG_20140914_091941

 

If you pass by, say hello.

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