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Continuing with the A to Z of canine park visitors, we have a brim-full of B’s:

There’s Brimstone, Blake, Bourneville, Bella, Billy beret, Bailey, Blaize, Boston, Buddy, Bobby, Barney and Blue.

Then there’s the lovely Bertha, a four year old Old English Sheepdog, used as a breeding machine and severely malnourished before her present owner came to her rescue:

Bertha IMG_20150211_100241

And Bilbo , a mature and very handsome Springer Pointer cross:

Bilbo IMG_20140410_093139

Look out for more doggy discourse in future posts :)

It’s not the 2015th! But it will be the 21st!

The Friends of Heaton Moor Park are busy preparing for yet another eggciting eggstravaganza. Come along and join in the fun :)

on Saturday 4th April

Easter Egg Hunt

 for children aged 0 to 10 years

from 10:00am until eggs run out

 

There will be refreshments, a tombola and other attractions

Heaton Moor Park, Buckingham Road

 

EEH 2015 A4 Poster

A year or two ago, I had the idea of posting something about the many dogs that use the park. I started off just thinking about the variety of names they’ve been given and wondered whether I could compile a list from A to Z. Then, I though it would be quite neat to have not just names but also the occasional photo. It’s taken a while for me to get round to doing this, but here goes:

So, starting with we have:

Alfie, Arthur and Andy. There must be more as I haven’t conducted a comprehensive review, so if you know of others, let me know by email or making a comment. (Just a couple of days after writing this, I came across a very lively bouncy 7month old called Aggie!).

Alfie

Alfie

Alfie is a lovely Miniature Schnauzer.

Arthur

Arthur

Arthur, I think is a Whippet? Not to be confused with the other types of non-canine whippits occasionally seen in the park!!

Andy

Andy

Andy is a nine year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Next time, I’ll see if I can get some B’s :)

Thanks to Catherine for contributing the following:

Parks & Gardens UK produces the first Gazetteer of UK War Memorial Parks and Gardens

Memorials to the two world wars take many poignant forms.  Little is known, however about the parks, gardens and playing fields which were specifically designated in such a way.  This has now been addressed by Parks and Gardens UK, which has produced a “gazetteer”. This Gazetteer currently has over 400 entries, and Parks & Gardens UK is inviting communities and individuals across the UK to add to it either by submitting additional content  or by nominating new sites.

Some of the parks are extraordinary.  For example, there is a “tree cathedral” in Bedfordshire and there is a burial ground for Muslim soldiers killed in the wars in Surrey.  Close by, the lovely Marple Memorial Park was opened in 1922, in memory of the Marple men who fell in the Great War.

Gazetteer of War Memorial Parks and Gardens – Parks & Gardens UK

The Deckel project

Over on the continent, the city of Hamburg may soon be enjoying an innovative new park.   There are proposals in Germany to build new parks by covering over one of its mightiest and busiest autobahns, the A7, which carries over 100,000 vehicles through the city each day.  The Ministry of Urban Development and Environment estimates that the city can create 60 acres of new green space. Theoretically this will reunite boroughs dissected by a brutal road and make living next to the road a much pleasanter experience; it should also greatly abate noise.   Hopefully all will be  in place by 2022.  Could this be considered for the more malegrobolous stretches of the A6?

More details at:  http://ow.ly/Ixwr0

Recycling ideas.

There are some interesting ideas on recycling at Terracycle,  and an informative article about the company and its ethos from the BBC:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31036601

Austerity and big bucks

Cat and coins

Photo courtesy of Pixaby

Bloggers here have commented, in the past, on the complex social and philosophical question of whether public goods, such as parks, should be reliant on private philanthropy, however generous or well-intentioned.  Mr Bill de Blasio, now mayor of New York, expressed an intention to make private funds raised by park conservancies in the city be shared out equitably across parks in all five boroughs, thus having their beneficial effects shared by all, and not just those lucky/wealthy enough to live near a park with affluent patrons.

So far Mr de Blasio does not seem to have legislated on this, preferring voluntary approaches.  The issue has recently raised its well-heeled head again, however, in the case of Manhattan’s Pier 54.  This is an event space whose underwater support have rotted, causing its closure.  The Hudson River Park Trust has had a very generous offer from a local billionaire, Mr Barry Diller.  He has offered to fund a spectacular man-made green island, with trees, paths and three performance spaces.  He wishes to donate over $100 million and fund the maintenance for some time.  A generous man.

But even such large slices from this munificent benefactor’s table raises dissident voices.  Should the wealthy, whose good intentions and worthiness are undisputed, configure public space?  What will happen in areas which do not attract such good Samaritans?  Is there anyone with a spare billion dollars to support public libraries?  What demands will such beautiful privately-funded inspirations place on the publicly-funded infrastructure?  Should the very wealthy pay a little more tax to help government do excellent things like this?  What would happen to a city left completely to market forces?

So far, most of the discussion emanates from the US.  What do readers think?

More discussion of this topic at:  https://www.tpl.org/public-spacesprivate-money

And let’s make sure there’s “plenty of fizz in the fridge…………………….”

Haven’t had such a misty morning for quite a while:

 

misty morning

It was beautifully quiet – until the machinery on the corner of Peel Moat Rd and Buckingham Rd burst into action! There are loads of road works in the Heatons at the moment with road closures popping up when and where least expected.

This morning I was reminded of a song from my infant school years, which was a firm favourite and probably drove my family nuts because I sang it so often:

One misty, moisty morning

When cloudy was the weather

There I met an old man

All clothed in leather

There I met an old man

With his cap under his chin

And, how do you do

And, how do you do

And, how do you do again.

I can’t find anything about the origins of this song, which is described by some as a nursery rhyme.  But, I rather think it may be an old folk song.  Here is Steeleye Span’s rendition but it’s not the same tune that I remember.

I didn’t see any old men clothed in leather in the park today nor any with caps under their chins. But, there was one old man who said ‘How do you do’ – it was just the once though!

I’ve been regularly posting blogs on this site for nearly two years now and it’s time for some reflection. If you are a regular reader you will know that although most of the writing is mine, a fair number of contributions have been made by others (mainly Catherine). I am a sort of editor, I suppose, and manage the blog. My aim was to learn about blogging and to try the format out as an alternative to a paid-for website.

WordPress is a brilliant blogging tool or CMS (content management system). It is intuitive to use, has many helpful hints and tutorials, and also provides extremely useful statistics. If you haven’t blogged and want to try, I absolutely recommend WordPress. And it’s free!

Many blogs are started enthusiastically but then fizzle out when the writers find that they don’t actually have that much to write about, or that too much time is required to keep the blog going. But, even if a blog does keeps going and has regular posts written in it, does this constitute a success? That rather depends on whether it is achieving what it set out to do. So now might be an appropriate time for a bit of scrutiny and evaluation of this blog. The questions that intrigue me are: Who reads this blog?  and  Why?

The statistics are very interesting:

Regular posts started appearing in March 2013. There were 56 posts in 2013 and 57 posts in 2014 – more than one a week!

By far, the greatest number of readers comes from the UK, followed by the USA, France, Ireland, Australia right down to single figures from Hong Kong, Azerbaijan, Argentina, Sweden, Republic of Korea and quite a few other places. In 2014, the blog was visited by readers from 41 different countries!

In 2014, the average number of daily visitors to the blog was 5 and the average number of page views was 12 per day. The greatest number of views was during the month of June – probably because people were looking for information about the Summer Festival which took place on the 22nd of June.

The most active day for comments was 3rd of March 2013 – congratulatory comments on the blog’s first steps! Since then there have been 134 comments, mostly coming from just a few individuals.

So, what do these figures tell me?

I am not at all surprised that most of the blog’s readers come from the UK. I am, though, intrigued by the visits from far-flung and exotic places. I assume that where there’s been one visit from a country, then that probably happened purely by chance. We’ve all dropped in on sites unexpectedly when Googling, haven’t we? As for the quite large numbers of readers from countries outside the UK, I sort of hope that these are people who are either ex-pats wanting to keep in touch with what’s going on in their old stomping ground, or friends of local residents who have an interest in the area and what their friends get up to.

It would be interesting to be able to break down the UK reader numbers into cities or counties, to see how many are locally based, but this analysis isn’t possible. Maybe in the future?

A more difficult question to answer is why people read this blog. Some regular readers are obviously interested in what’s been written because they comment on various posts. But, there must also be people ‘out there’ who read the blog every day, maybe even with great interest, and just don’t feel it necessary to respond or participate in any way. However, it would be interesting to hear from the silent majority – who are you? why do you read this blog?

I probably know the answer: I think that most people drop in only occasionally and usually it’s to find out if there’s any information about events in the park; there’s often a spike in views around Christmas, Easter and the Summer Festival dates. There are probably only a few people who are regular readers. One way of getting hear about new posts is to sign up to ‘follow’ the blog or to receive email notifications. There are 45 followers of this blog but fewer than 10 are local or appear to have any connection with the park or area. I suspect that quite a few have signed up to ‘follow’ in the hope that by doing so their own blog will receive publicity.

So it’s hard to know who is reading and why.

Ultimately, the most pertinent question is probably: ‘Is it worth continuing with this blog?’

And I have to say that I don’t know the answer to that one.

 

When I’m stuck for something to write, along comes the blogging elf, aka Catherine, with helpful contributions:

Musings on opera tickets, Waitrose bags and their deconstruction ………

Litter Pixabay

The last few weeks in the Commons have been interesting for many reasons.  In a time of complex tragedy, there were high-minded encomia on freedom of speech.  PMQs provided the usual torrent of opportunistic abuse.  There will, it seems, be a glittering event in London in February, to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta where one can network with many distinguished bankers and  legal and PR experts, discussing the importance of this excellent document which enshrines the rule  of law in the country.  Perhaps there will be a discussion on the European Convention on Human Rights, if the UK has not withdrawn from it in the meantime.

Also fascinating is the fact that the Communities and Local Government Committee is conducting an enquiry into a subject dear to the hearts of those who love the park:  litter.  Representatives of the food packaging industry, various councils and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, and other interested bodies, have presented much interesting evidence, detailing what various bodies are trying to do about this problem, about the balance between what councils should be doing and what private firms should be doing, and about the cost.

For example, a speaker from the Foodservice Packaging Association said, inter alia:

We do feel that those who litter are not all the same and that differences in motivation and inclination exist so we would wish to encourage the trial and further testing of bins such as the Big Belly which overcomes the issue of bins overflowing by crushing the contents and sending a signal to the waste collector once the bin is full.  …..We applaud the Litter Angels charity campaign organised by Gordon Henderson MP.  This campaign takes a strong message to school children to show the anti social nature of littering and demonstrates the benefits to the local environment of overcoming litter. 

The Big Belly is a positive idea, although I do not know of any instances of it being trialled in the UK.    Mrs K has already pointed out the possibility of talking bins, an original initiative which aims to encourage people in public  to care a bit more about their surroundings, and the effect of littering on others.

The submission from David Sedaris has attracted the most press attention.

Mr Sedaris, a US writer living in England, has told the Committee that Britain has the worst litter problem in the world.  Further evidence he presents is that, on litter picking forays, he never picks up opera tickets, and has only once retrieved a Waitrose bag.  Bags from other supermarkets abound.  He finds more Mayfair cigarette butts than any other, the cheapest brand.  This has led him to conclude that certain-socio economic groups are the principal culprits.  Not only are the poor unable to cook, it seems, but they are throwing down a lot of litter on their way to and from the takeaway.  He notes also a “staggering” amount of rubbish thrown down by pupils attending a school near his home; the head teacher thinks it is “demeaning” to make pupils pick up the rubbish they drop.

Many points made by Mr Sedaris resonate locally.   Here, much litter is observably caused by school pupils, and there seems little point in seeking the help or support of their teachers.  Dozens of cigarette butts are discarded, although I am unable to identify the specific brand.  I also have never picked up opera tickets in the park; I am not sure where one would go locally to hear Der Ring das Nibelungen, Turandot or Il Barbiere di Siviglia.  Nor can I recall a single Waitrose bag; Tesco and Morrisons beat them hands down.  The nearest Waitrose is probably in Cheadle Hulme or Poynton.  The Ocado van does trundle about, though, but I have never seen a champagne bottle or lobster slathered in charmoula butter hurled from its windows.   So I am not entirely sure what inferences to make, qualitatively or quantitatively, from the presence or absence of these items.  At which point, let us, all together, quote Carl Sagan:  “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”   What are our chances of doing a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind, crossover design trial to establish hard data?  Not good.

I find myself disagreeing with Mr Sedaris on the contention that litter is mainly emanating from low socio-economic groups.  Those whom I observe in the park who obviously take pleasure in throwing down rubbish tend to radiate a sense of entitlement, of security, certainty.  They are a privileged group who act as they please and others deal with the consequences; they are sure that whatever mess they make will be picked up by their social and genetic inferiors, like me.  To what extent might the problem be a reflection of the ubiquitous class system?  Or is it part of the perception that there is no such thing as society, a feculent neoliberal chicken coming home to roost?

The situation defies any sort of solution.  Mrs Thatcher memorably chastised the nation about littering, a long time ago, to no discernible effect.  Bill Bryson’s thoughtful entreaties were to no avail.  Some friends cogitating on the subject assure me that the only way forward is a tough enforcement crackdown, with as many fines as possible being handed out ruthlessly, to dispel the sense that one can litter with impunity.    Mr Sedaris suggests road patrols which stop traffic and fine anyone with clean cars, presumably on the assumption that they have thrown litter out of the window.  Draconian, but it might work.

But we soldier on.  In December 2014 Keep Britain Tidy published a report seeking to establish a fuller picture of the  economic cost of the litter all around us .   The Clean Europe Network had a “summit” in Brussels in the same month.   There are also fears that the cuts to council budgets could further curtail council refuse collections, as reported in the Independent.    Perhaps the Commons Committee will come up with some magical solutions.

Does anyone else remember being shown “In the Bag” at school?  I’m still trying to deconstruct that, fifty years later.

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