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.

rubbish ideas?

Catherine’s recent contribution about the two-way refuse bin reminded me of the Keep Britain Tidy  Love Where You Live Campaign which introduced talking bins in parts of London, Liverpool and Warrington in 2011/2012, winning an award for creativity and effectiveness. The bins in the capital were temporary and  toured around the UK returning for the Olympic Games  but there were plans to have them installed permanently, if successful.

We have an ongoing problem with litter in Heaton Moor Park, which is hard to believe because most of the time the park looks very tidy. But, if it wasn’t for a certain litter fairy and her helpers and also Andy the park person (apologies to Andy for not knowing his job title!), the place would be a real tip. For some unknown reason, many people find it impossible to put their refuse in the ample number of bins provided; rubbish strewn on the grass and around benches is a common occurrence.

My own feeling is that if we educate the young park users to use the bins, they will soon get into the habit of doing so and this will be something they will carry on doing for life. It might already be too late to influence the teenagers and adults but a novelty might just work for them too.

I would love to see some talking bins in the park. I can see children pestering their parents to take them to the park to ‘feed’ the bins just to listen to them talk back. It would be such a good way of teaching them about the environment.

Have a look at a You tube video of one of the talking bins here – wouldn’t it be great to have one of these in our park?

It does seem to be an idea that’s catching on.  Chaddesden Park in Derby installed a couple of bins in 2013; read more about them here. And in North Shields, there are talking solar powered recycling bins.


 Some more thoughts on recycling from Catherine:

Strays (2)

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com


The park may be blighted, particularly on sunny days, with plastic bottles, pizza boxes and gouts of discarded fried chicken, but it is rare to see a stray dog there.   Happily, the dogs in the park are usually well-nourished, in good spirits and even trendily dressed.  However, other parts of the world are not so lucky, and this has given rise to one of the most interesting recycling initiatives I have heard of for some time. 

The city of Istanbul has a major problem with free roaming dogs, and cats.  This is a harrowing, well-known and well-documented problem.  However, the resourceful and compassionate staff of a Turkish company, Pugedon,   has designed a feeding station which will dispense food to hungry dogs, or cats, if a recyclable plastic bottle is inserted.    The machine, invented by Engin Girgin, has containers for water, into which surplus water from bottles can be poured, and it will deposit a portion of dog food into an accessible tray when a bottle is placed inside a special receptacle.  There is no government funding for this; the cost of the dog food is recouped from the recycling of the bottles.  The machine runs off solar power and so does not consume expensive electricity or fuel.  The food can safely be consumed by stray cats.

Several other countries have expressed interest and the machines are now being exported from Turkey.

Even the Daily Mail approves, with an article on this recycling initiative here.  

I find this story immensely uplifting.  There is some good in all this great surfeit of shoddy which we throw away.  Walt Whitman talked of “sweet things coming from corruptions” and the “distilling of exquisite winds from infused fetor.”  This machine recycles and feeds hungry animals.  Bravo Istanbul:  Çok iyi yapılır!


Sounds like a brilliant idea!


Heaton Norris Park

There are many who sample the delights of Stockport’s parks but few who choose to share the experience.

Having some time ago described a couple of visits to other parks in the Heatons, I am very happy to have passed the baton on to someone else and it is with great pleasure that I introduce another intrepid explorer, the amazing Ms H, who, with a trusted companion, visited Heaton Norris Park a few weeks ago and sent in the following report and photos:

I visited the park on a Friday mid morning in June with a friend. The day was cloudy and there weren’t many people about; just a dog walker and a lady with a toddler. 

The park was mostly litter free. Hedges had been trimmed and grass cut.

There’s a children’s play area with spider web  and slide, roundabout, mini trampoline, toddler slide, swings and stones to sit on.  Also a  fixed-net tennis court and basketball court, in a fenced-off area.

Heaton Norris Park playground20140627_100127

Next to the play area is a Community Centre, which someone opened up while I was there and said hello.

There are three bowling greens, two of them in good condition, and lots of benches. There’s a pavilion with a notice board.

The musical garden was lovely: ding dong hollow tubes, shaker balls, sleeper whistles to stand on to work – great fun, horns and lots of lovely flowers.

Heaton Norris Park musical garden 20140627_095211

There’s a great view of Stockport town centre showing the town hall, car park, St George’s church.  Not the usual view of the town.

Heaton Norris Park vista 20140627_095801

The park is surrounded by flats and houses. Accessible and suitable for disabled people as it’s in general good repair.

Heaton Norris Park20140627_095155

Thank you Ms H for the lovely photos and description. The musical garden sounds intriguing and I think I’m going to have to check this out for myself. I haven’t been there for many years and only visited it occasionally – to see the fireworks display on Bonfire Night. I recall it being known as Heaton Norris Recreation Ground, or ‘The Rec’.

Heaton Norris Park was created some twenty years earlier than Heaton Moor Park. It too was a gift from Lord Egerton although the public also contributed to the cost of acquiring the land. It is the closest park to the town centre shopping precinct but is on the other side of the M60 motorway so not exactly a hop and a skip away, particularly as it is on higher ground. I can’t see people laden with shopping wanting to trudge uphill to take a break there, however pleasing the view.

But, it looks like it’s worth making a special trip. So, if you’re from these parts, go and see for yourself and let me know what you think.

Some musings on recycling from Catherine:

Photo courtesy of CD

Photo courtesy of CD


Walking round our beautiful park on a beautiful sunny day recently, my black bag of litter began to tinkle and rustle.  It was turning into a two black bag day.     There must, I keep thinking, obsessively, be a use for all this great tsunami of shoddy which is routinely thrown away in our society, on the streets, from households, from organisations.  The Pacific garbage patch floated vaguely into my mind.

As a practical exercise, I extracted a discarded portable barbecue, removed the immolated sausages for the magpies and the great tits who come to my bird table, and surveyed the remaining detritus.

What can be done with a fairly robust metal grille, an aluminium tray, charcoal ash and some half burnt briquettes?   Is it utter trash, or could it be reused?

I stared at the ash.  I seem to remember that charcoal ash can act as a fertilizer, so I can put it on the garden, perhaps.   My father, in rural Ulster, used to put wood ash on many plants and vegetables; his rhubarb had a particularly fearsome reputation.  He had pure wood ash, though, and I would guess that charcoal briquettes may contain additives.   My grandmother used an ash based concoction to clean silver etc as she considered Brasso too expensive.   A student made the interesting suggestion that the finest of the ash could be mixed with paint and used as a face camouflage in secretive urbex explorations, where one does not wish to be identified, if apprehended.  Another former student, an anthropologist who is now working in Columbia, responded to an email on the subject with the information that ash can be used as toothpaste, provided the potassium hydroxide level is high enough.  He also suggested that I buy chickens and let them take ash baths, as it can be fatal to avian parasites.  Neither option seemed particularly attractive at the time.

The foil container, which is technically recyclable, should have a lot of uses.  One suggestion was to use it to sharpen scissors, by folding it into several layers and then slicing it several times with the blades.  Flattening such containers out means they can be put under the covers of an ironing board, so the heat from the iron will be retained longer.  It’s not easy to get them completely flat for this, though.  It looks as if it could serve as a cat litter holder, but knowing how fussy Heaton Moor cats are, they might take one sniff and turn their backs.  It also looks serviceable as a mould for making soap, but somehow one never gets around to making soap.  Another more feasible suggestion was to accumulate several such foil plates and dishes and string them together around a fruit tree, where their rustling noise would deter birds having a snack.   Edward, from New York, reckoned it would be just about fine for storing six baseballs, and for bringing caught fish home from Prospect Park Lake, although he conceded that it probably wouldn’t be cost effective transporting it all the way to the US in the first place.

The metal grille, if one was artistic enough, could be twisted into the shape of a bird, perhaps.  Two of the long pieces could be cut out and soldered to form the bird’s legs and then twisted onto some base wire into claws.  Suitably altered, the grille could work as a hanging jewellery holder.  If it could be cut up, it could be fashioned into soap dishes. All these uses would require soldering and artistic skills which I don’t have.    But metal, of course, can be recycled, if taken to an appropriate recycling centre.

It seems there are lots of uses for plastic bottles.  In a colleague’s office, there is an attractive case brimming with colourful pencils, made out of a litre milk bottle lying flat, with a large hole cut in the top.  The larger bottles, if swathed in colourful raffia or some fabric, could serve as vases.  Cut out the bottom of a number of them, and you have some “clam shell” shapes which can be painted and hung together as a wind chime.  I’ve seen plastic bottles used as handles on a home-made skipping rope, and have known students to fill them with sand or pebbles to create a makeshift dumbbell.

An ever resourceful friend suggested an organic fly trap, which initially seemed fairly easy:  remove the cap and cut the neck off the bottle, about one third of the way down; put some bait into the base, and insert the neck of the bottle, upside down, above it.   Then tape the structure together; cut some thin wire into a U shape, burn a couple of holes in your bait bottle, and hang the whole thing up to lure fruit flies and blow flies.   When full of dead flies, remove, and empty the contents into the soil in the garden:  completely organic!   What should I use as bait, I asked?  Dog poo is best, came the jaunty reply;   it is free and plentiful, it suppurates very nicely, the flies love it, and the smell is so revolting that you will forget you ever worried about litter in the first place. 

Any other ideas for recycling litter?   Another resourceful acquaintance opines that I should just dump the lot beneath the wooden bench when the smokers and drinkers are there.  It’s not as if they’re going to notice.


Some interesting ideas! Thanks Catherine.

Maybe this is an opportunity for an artistic event on a ‘recycling litter’ theme?  It reminds me of a rather unusual collection of rubbish that I wrote about here, last year.

Rose-clad obelisks

We’ve been having glorious weather these last few weeks and one of the most beautiful sights in the park has been the obelisk at the far end of the bowling green. Some months ago I wrote about what the Knitting Friends had been getting up to, here, and mentioned that they had paid for a couple of obelisks.

Before he left the park, Peter split a large rose bush, that hadn’t looked at its best where it was growing, and transplanted the stems under and around each obelisk. The knitters and bowlers were interested in whether this would actually work and were very pleased to see that in no time at all, the stems happily accepted their new locations and started producing new and vigorous shoots. The full effect of the roses in bloom was eagerly anticipated. As granny used to say, “Be patient and you’ll be rewarded,” and there’s been a fabulous display throughout July. Well worth the wait!

This is the obelisk at the far end of the bowling green:

obelisk rose 1 IMG_20140705_094722


And this is the view the bowlers get from the green:

obelisk rose 2 IMG_20140705_094746


But, ‘what about the other obelisk?’, I hear you ask.

Well, Peter did say that the rose planted near the pavilion might not be as vigorous as the one you can see in the photos – and he was right! I don’t want to start comparisons here as it’s not the fault of the rose; the spot near the pavilion isn’t as sunny as the far end of the green and the soil is a lot drier so the rose has had more obstacles to overcome. But, it’s doing well and has covered around half of the obelisk. Next year it will be beautiful and happy for me to post its image for the world to admire.

In the meantime, if you are local to the park, enjoy both roses in the flesh. If you’re not from these parts, you’ll have to content yourself with photos of one for now.

“….. Dear rose, thy joy’s undimmed

Thy cup is ruby-rimmed,

Thy cup’s heart nectar-brimmed……”        Robert Browning


And from Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singing in the Rain:

” Moses supposes his his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes erroneously,
Moses he knowses his toeses aren’t roses,
As Moses supposes his toeses to be!
Moses supposes his toeses are Roses,
But Moses supposes erroneously,
A mose is a mose!
A rose is a rose!
A toes is a toes!……………….”

Watch the film clip on youtube here

On your marks, get set, go!   That’s one,    there’s another……….

Starting tomorrow,  19th July, until Sunday 10th August, you can take part in the big butterfly count. This is a nationwide survey  which helps to assess the health of our environment. It’s been taking place since 2010 and provides invaluable data on the state of our biodiversity. Because butterflies react very quickly to changes in the environment, they can act as an early warning signal.

The survey can be done anywhere – in a park, in a forest, in fields, on a walk or in your garden. All you need to do is spend 15 minutes observing butterflies and making a note of the variety and numbers seen. Even if you spot none, that is useful data. The big butterfly count website has a lovely identification chart you can download and there’s also an app.  Sounds like a brilliant activity for children during the school holidays! You can do the count more than once giving endless scope for entertainment!

A few weeks ago I spotted this little lady in the park:

Speckled wood b'fly IMG_20140612_094442

A speckled wood butterfly, if I’m not mistaken. And, judging by the distinct markings, probably a female. My trusty Reader’s Digest book tells me that these butterflies are strongly territorial and the male often defends its ‘patch’ against other males.

So there’s a strong chance that I might spot more of these when I take part in the count.


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