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Poo matters

A brilliant scheme recently launched by Corby Borough Council to highlight (literally!) the problem of dog poo on the streets has council officers spraying dog mess with an environmentally friendly and degradable fluorescent paint. They will be doing this for a set period of time before cleaning the streets and then monitoring whether or not the action has made any difference. Read more about this here. Other places have also carried out similar actions with some success – just google ‘paint spraying dog poo’ to see what West Dunbartonshire, Camden, Swansea, Boston Borough Council and others have to say about it.

I have often thought that spray-painting dog poo would be a good thing in our park, to draw attention to nasties underfoot. I feel very sorry for the kids who return home, having enjoyed a game of football, with poo on their clothes and, even worse, on their hands, feet and faces! The goalkeeper’s role is truly a hazardous one when there are nasty surprises in the grass.

Dog poo 1 IMG_20130506_085242

 

Dog faeces can lead to nasty diseases such as toxocariasis although it must be said that cats and foxes are also culprits when it comes to this infectious disease. Responsible cat owners ensure that their cats do not foul either in the park or a neighbour’s garden and have a litter tray in their own home. But, there’s not much that can be done about foxes and where they choose to deposit their excrement. However, there are far more dogs using the park than cats and foxes combined. I would think that we must have around 50 or more regular daily canine visitors ; some of them are unsupervised and liable to poo unobserved.

So, the thought for today is that if we all do our bit to clean up after our pets the park will be a safer place for our children to play in and a nicer place for everyone.

If you are interested, there’s a good guide to environmental law here. And, if you are a regular user of the park and are concerned about the amount of dog poo, then please contact the council dog warden service to complain about it either by phone: 0161 474 4207 or by email: dog.warden@stockport.gov.uk. If no-one complains, the council officers will never do anything because no problems have been reported.

 

 

 

It’s time to return to our park’s canine visitors. There is a small but select group bearing names beginning with the letter G:

Georgie cockerpoo IMG_20140714_083913

Georgie, a Cockerpoo, small but perfectly formed.

Then there’s Ginny, named after the Harry Potter character who broke millions of young girls’ hearts by marrying the handsome wizard.

And Gussie, who may have been named after someone’s favourite aged aunt or perhaps Gorgeous Gussie Moran the tennis player. who died in 2013 aged 89.

Linear parks

Some thoughts about the development of linear parks from Catherine:

Contributors to this blog have commented in the past on the fascinating development of the concept of the linear park in various sites around the world, where space is very limited.   Many, but not all, use obsolete railway infrastructure.   Such infrastructure – stations, viaducts etc – are expensive to remove, and their demolition can be environmentally harmful.  Why not reuse, recycle, refurbish, find another use for them?   The popularity of these sort of developments is much in evidence at the moment.

The  beautiful 19th-century Vincennes railway viaduct in Paris’s 12th arrondissement became disused in 1969 and  was successfully refurbished and reformed  as the world’s first elevated park, and is now known as the Promenade Plantee.  One of the most famous linear parks is the remarkable High Line in New York City, which has transmogrified an old elevated railway of the city’s rust belt into a thing of beauty; its first section opened in 2009.

The three-mile elevated path, called the Bloomingdale Trail,   in Chicago, allows bikers and pedestrians to travel to work through a section of Chicago’s northwest side.  In Dallas, Klyde Warren Park is built right over a section of freeway, and in Hamburg, Germany, the Deckel park is being constructed over a hellish autobahn.  There are ambitious plans for an Underline in Miami, transforming the underutilized land below Miami’s MetroRail.

Perhaps the most spectacular concept is the NYC Lowline, which relies on solar technology and remote skylights to bring light to an abandoned “trolley terminal” underground.   Many difficult technical challenges have not dampened enthusiasm for this concept.  New Yorkers are tough and smart; if they want plants to photosynthesise underground, that is what they shall have. 

The Dutch are also working with ingenuity and energy on the Hofbogen in Rotterdam, and, nearer home, the very pretty Middlewood Way is a haven of tranquillity, blossom, birds, frogs and little ponds.

There is so much innovation and creative thinking that it seems scarcely possible that new ground could be broken in this area, if you will excuse the execrable pun.  But that is happening in Singapore.  There the “Line of Life” will traverse the country.  The former cross-country train line spans the entire territory of Singapore, from Tanjong Pagar Railway Station on the south to Malaysia’s border on the north.  It was built in the colonial period, to bring rubber and tin to the coast.

The contract for this work has been awarded to the architectural firm Nikken Sekkei, who describe it as follows:

“Lines of Life sets out a vision for a seamless public space, the preservation and reintegration of existing green areas and a relaxed extension of modern life. The proposal devises a strategy of design criteria and objectives to make the Rail Corridor inspiring, accessible, comfortable, memorable, eco-friendly and growing/evolving, as it “stitches the Nation with Lines of Life” , not just from north to south, but from west to east as well, and weaves the communities on both sides into the life of the rail corridor by providing a continuous high quality public space adding to the high quality of life in Singapore, as well as acting as a catalyst to development and community bonding”.

The “line of life” will have twelve access points and amenities like toilets, bicycle rental facilities, resting points, and showers, will be provided at various places.   A tall tower will be built to create a look out point over Singapore’s Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, and there will be an area for open –air  movies and exercise sessions. Historically significant buildings like the Tanjong Pagar railway station will be preserved.

More details are available here:  http://ow.ly/WPxhQ

Let’s hope this interesting idea comes to fruition.  If it does, it is almost guaranteed to be spotlessly clean, as Singapore has draconian litter laws. 

Such parks are not static, traditional places.  They do not present themselves as being semi-rural retreats or havens within a busy metropolis.  They literally cross boundaries.   They remain essentially ways to somewhere else, and resist being a discrete destination.  They promote a more vital experience of landscape.  They have no need to conform to the historical and accepted or cultivated paradigm of the urban park.   Their existence was made possible by large industrial machines and workplaces, which have now vanished and simultaneously created a new form of place.  The possibility of being able to go to urban places without struggling along a horrible road is a very intriguing one, creating true connectivity between diverse neighbourhoods, and perhaps creating a more cohesive urban identity.

Ash tree 2 IMG_20130821_101033

Today sees the launch of the Charter for Trees, Woods and People with a huge piece of pavement art, simulating a forest, on the Southbank in London.

In 2015, the Woodland Trust issued an invitation to various conservation, environmental, business and social sector organisations to join them in putting together a new Charter for the protection of trees. Not that there’s anything wrong with the principles of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, but most people these days have different needs when it comes to woodland and don’t often use them to graze animals or collect firewood. More than 40 organisations accepted the Woodland Trust’s invitation and have all been working together to build a new movement in support of woods and trees.

The call has now gone out for members of the public to become involved.  So, if you have a special memory that involves a tree or wouldn’t have been the same if a tree wasn’t involved, share it on The Charter’s web site. The aim is to collect people’s memories of experiences involving trees and woods to help create a charter that reflects the true meaning of our trees and woods to the people of the UK.

Whether you exchanged your first kiss under a gnarled oak tree, built a fantastic multi-storey tree-house, hid behind a tree from mortal enemies, climbed one to escape the tedium of life, or just enjoyed kicking up autumn leaves on your way to school, share the memory………

And, you might want to ask SMBC to plant a couple of trees in the park, to replace the ones that had to be cut down last year.

Addendum 8.2.16

It seems that sometimes all you need to do is think about something…..and it happens! There are now three new trees planted in the park – young, sturdy oaks. Two are on the raised section where the beech was felled and one on the raised section near Elms Road gate. Yay!  Big thank you to the council :)

 

A new year – time to reflect on the old and make plans for the new.

2015 distinguished itself by ending with a record breaking wettest and mildest December in a long, long time. If you are interested in the details, have a look at the Met Office’s summary. We were lucky that the park didn’t suffer any flooding but there was severe ponding at some gates, and the grassed areas became a sodden mess. But, grass is quite resilient so there shouldn’t be any lasting damage.

The hedge cutting team from SK Solutions carried out a very comprehensive tidy-up just before Christmas, concentrating mainly on areas towards the centre circle. Shrubs were cut and cleared quite drastically.

shrub shear IMG_20151217_095030

I wonder whether there is a term for the type of cut given?

table top trim IMG_20151217_095047

How about: ‘table top trim’, ‘corporation crew cut’, ‘SK short back and sides’, ‘council crop and chop’, or, ‘shipshape shrub shear ‘?

I have to say that this uniform flat topped style is not my preference. I like shrubs to be shaped into a natural form. But other people may just love this sort of minimalist style. It’s a question of taste.

shearing IMG_20151217_095204

It will be interesting to see how the shrubs will regrow and also whether, and for how long, the spaces cleared will remain bare.

The Friends of the park started 2016 with a work day on the 9th of January, clearing old growth near the yew hedge and reshaping some of the shrubs near the play area. Mr Bush had a bit of a trim and now looks very smart indeed.

Mr Bush 2016 IMG_20160111_084842

In addition to the monthly volunteer workdays, the Friends of the park are now paying for regular help from a professional gardener. This could be a first for a Stockport park! You might wonder where the money to pay for this help comes from. As well as raising money from events during the year, such as the Christmas Carols in the park and Easter Egg Hunt, the Friends also receive several regular donations of money from supporters through the LocalGiving fundraising web site and directly. Just £5 a month mounts up and is of tremendous help. If you are local, or live far away but have an affection for the park, please consider signing up to make a donation.

BG beds IMG_20160111_091603

The results of the professional’s work are already visible – he is starting with the beds around the bowling green, which already look much improved. For those of you who think the professional looks like Peter – it is Peter!

I have no doubt that there are Friends of Parks groups who are envious of our group’s ability to employ someone. But for a lot of us, who are busy or just not inclined to do gardening, making a donation is preferable to spending time wielding a spade. And if by doing this we are able to maintain the appearance of a lovely park and stop it from a sorry decline then we should be congratulated and the council should be more than grateful for our interest and initiative (I’m sure that they are!). Ideally though, there would be more consultation and co-operation between the Friends group and the council’s gardening teams as to what should be done and how. After all, the park is there for the benefit of the local residents, so it makes sense that they should have a say and be consulted about its appearance and how it is maintained.

2016 will be an interesting year. There is money available from the new housing development on the old Peel Moat site but no firm plans yet for how this will be spent. One of our councillors, David Sedgwick, came along to have a chat with the Friends during the work day on Saturday to hear what residents might want done in the park. One of the requests is improved drainage to the football field and re-positioning of goalposts. I’m sure that the footie players would endorse this! If you had a large sum, say £100,000, what would you spend it on?

Today, for the first time in ages, we had sunshine. Yay!!

It didn’t rain (fingers crossed xx, there’s still time for that to change!), the wind was slight, the temperature higher than normal for the time of year. Near perfect conditions for a winter event in the park, don’t you think? If only the Carols in the Park had been on today instead of yesterday.

Yesterday, the forecast for the day was quite awful – rain for most of the day. However, it actually turned out better than expected although there was still some rain and the sky was cloudy and grey. Despite that, friends, families and neighbours turned out to sing carols, listen to the Besses ‘o th’ Barn brass band and Do Your Thing choir, and to partake of a cup or two of good cheer. There was a lovely atmosphere as old friends caught up with each other’s news and new friends got to know each other. One toddler was most put out when he saw the band was occupying the toddler play area. ‘That’s my slide!’ he cried, but on hearing them play, he muttered ‘OK, they can stay’ and then eyed them up as if to say ‘Play a wrong note and you’ll have to move away and leave the play area to the experts.’

Unless you actually involve yourself in putting on an event you probably don’t give much thought to what is involved. I have to admit that I never really thought about this myself in the past – I just went along to whatever  it was and enjoyed myself.

An event like the Carols in the Park could not happen without a great deal of hard work from the Friends of Heaton Moor Park – so, a very big thank you to the Friends’ core group who attend the monthly meetings and also the family members and friends that were roped in to help. There were some very weary people taking down gazebos in the dark after everyone had gone home. One thing’s for sure though – if there had been more volunteers, the workload would have been lighter.

If you are local and you’re reading this – do please think about becoming involved in the Friends’ group. There’s always something that you’d be able to help with and it needn’t take up much of your time.

 

Carols poster 2015 IMG_20151217_192611

It’s the Friends’ annual Christmas event, on Saturday 19th December from 2 until 4. Join in the carol singing, sample a hot drink and mince pie, have a go on the tombola, enjoy the brass band, and take your little ones to visit Santa in his grotto.

Not only is this a very jolly community gathering, but it’s also a fundraising opportunity for the Friends of the park. All the profits from the event will go towards park projects and improvements. It’s our green space and we need to use it and look after it – so, come along on the 19th and be inspired to come to one or more of the monthly work days too.

Now, I’m off to catch myself a turkey and dig up a tree….And then there are still the presents to buy…How many shopping days are there left?………

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