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I’m so slow posting about our doggy friends that there’s a risk I may not get to the end of my A to Z during my lifetime, so I’ve decided to deal with two letters in this post.

A selection of inimitable jokers for your delight:-

There’s Isla, a ginger, or should I say strawberry blonde, puppy.

And Izzi

Izzi IMG_20150606_151014

a 9 year old boxer who comes to the park with her daughter Munchkin.

Also jostling for attention, particularly when that nice lady with the treats is around, are:

Photo courtesy of Catherine

Photo courtesy of Catherine

Jetta, a German Shepherd  whose daily constitutional is slow but oh, so elegant and dignified; Jake, Jeremy, and 14 year old Jasper.

There’s also Jaffa, an 8 year old spaniel who’s a bit of an escape artist – should have been named Houdini!

There are two Jessies; one is a 3 year old Westie, the other an 11 year old Norfolk Terrier and very pretty, as you can see.

Jesse IMG_20150605_102458

I must also mention the delightful smiling Jenny, and gorgeous Jack who came to the park with Theo one day.

Now, this last one is, I think, Jackson, but I could be wrong – I’m afraid that if I don’t make a note of the name straightaway, I’m liable to forget!

Jackson IMG_20150428_091826

How could I forget such a sweetie’s name? My apologies Jackson, or whatever your name is!

A jolly interesting collection? I think so!

 

More thoughts from Catherine, recycling expert and information specialist:

Plastic bottles and containers are a perpetual scourge in the park.  A lot of people are thinking about this problem, here and elsewhere.

 Styrofoam and recycling

Some time ago, in an earlier blog post, I referred to efforts to ban the use of Styrofoam in various places.  An interesting instance of this was the movement for a ban in New York City, which was brought forward by the Mayor, Mr Bill de Blasio.  On July 1, 2015, the city banned disposable Styrofoam single-serve containers.  The Dart Container Corp and Restaurant Action Alliance NYC sued the city for imposing the ban, arguing that the substance is recyclable, and the Manhattan Supreme Court has overturned it.

Naturally, the Mayor sought to reverse the reversal.  However, he seems to have lost this fight.  The rationale for the ban rested on the fact that there was no economically viable long-term means of recycling the containers.  In response to this, the Dart Corporation offered the city a five-year plan to recycle all the foam cups and trays, etc., and the Appeal Court has denied the Mayor’s challenge.  The case for recycling is being promoted at http://newyork.gofoam.org/

The respective arguments are difficult to evaluate without technical knowledge, but it does seem to be true that styrofoam can be recycled, or “downcycled” into packaging materials.  However,  this is an imperfect process; the plastic materials have to be collected and the process is complex and costs money.  The “downcycled” items can then pop up somewhere else.  Furthermore, if Styrofoam containers are being used in restaurants, takeaways, etc., the task and expense of collecting them and delivering them to a recycling plant, will fall on the public purse.  Naturally the plastics industry rather like this; they would, wouldn’t they?

Given the menace that Styrofoam “clam shells” are in our small park, one can only wonder at the tons of it which must be found on the streets of this labyrinth of a city.   And given the dangerous nature of Styrofoam, perhaps the question is not, how can we deal with it, but why on earth do we tolerate it in the first place?   Let us see  if the reversal can itself  be reversed.   Stick to your guns, Bill.  You are mayor of Noo Yawk. 

Plastic water

Thanks to aficionados who have alerted me to an interesting new publication, Plastic Water The Social and Material Life of Bottled Water, by Gay Hawkins et al.   This discusses the creation and emergence of a mass market for bottled water, and the invention of the PET bottle.  It opens with a challenging comment from Lewis Black, comedian:  “We care about our health so much that in the last twenty-five years we destroyed water”…….  This performance can be found on Youtube.

Biodegradable bottles and edible cutlery

The final solution to the plastic bottle problem might be on the horizon, if not imminent.  An Icelandic product designer has been experimenting with the creation of “bottles” from powdered agar.  When the powder is added to water, it forms into a jelly-like material, which can be shaped into a bottle-like mould.  This will hold water, and decompose when drained.  More information here.

A researcher in Hyderabad has created some  edible cutlery.   Since 2011, Bakeys has manufactured over 1.5 million edible spoons made from rice, wheat, and millet in eight different flavors: sugar, ginger-cinnamon, ginger-garlic, celery, black pepper, cumin, mint-ginger, and carrot-beetroot.    http://www.bakeys.com/

 The World Economic Forum predicts that there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.  So a bottle  and spoon which is edible would be a good thing. 

Plastic recycling

A Dutch entrepreneur has designed a machine for recycling plastic, which is low cost and can be created virtually anywhere.  It includes   a plastic shredder, extruder, injection moulder and rotation moulder; This project is open-source and its creator hopes it will be used, and adapted and enhanced, all over the world; local craftsmen and women can modify the process in the light of their individual circumstances .  The mechanism has been used, so far, to create litter bins, lamps and toys.  Other ideas are requested:  http://preciousplastic.com/

There are many innovative ideas on reusing  plastic bottles, inter alia, at Veolia; their Twitter feed is at http://bit.ly/1SLipJ7

There is an entire subreddit on the removal of plastic from newly bought goods.  https://www.reddit.com/r/thatpeelingfeeling

 

Easter 2016

For more than 20 years, the Friends of Heaton Moor Park have organised an Easter Egg Hunt in the park on Easter Saturday. Over the years, the number of children attending has increased, reaching 500+ most recently. An event attracting such large numbers needed a lot of organising and many helpers –  to plan, arrange publicity material, obtain registration cards, paint corks, buy eggs, erect gazebos, man registration desks, distribute corks, attend the cork exchange points, serve refreshments, hold a raffle/tombola and then……… clear everything away at the end of the day. Never mind what was required in advance, the day itself required around 20 people to deal with all the different tasks!

This year will be different. There will be an event in the park – from 10am until around 2pm – but it will be low-key and will have a new format.

Easter poster 2016 IMG_20160323_085138

We hope that families will come to the park to ‘do their own thing’ – hunt for eggs, wear Easter bonnets, picnic, play……   Easter Bunny and Chick will be around and if asked very nicely, may give well-behaved children an egg or two:)

There will also be refreshments and hot cross buns in the pavilion.

You may be wondering: Why the change in format this year? The reason is: lack of volunteers😦

The Friends just haven’t had enough people they could call on to help. The ladies from Rotary are offering their support and will help with refreshments but for the event to be like last year, many more helpers are required.

You might also ask: Why bother putting on an event like this anyway? Well, it has become a sort of tradition and there are parents bringing children who remember attending themselves when they were little. It’s a time for a bit of bonding and community spirit. A time for friends to get together. And, we mustn’t forget that it’s an opportunity for a bit of fund-raising for the Friends. All moneys raised go towards the park. This year the Friends are paying for regular professional gardening to supplement what they are able to do on Workdays. Because of Council cutbacks, there is even more for volunteers to do if the park is not to become neglected, but the volunteers have limited time and numbers – hence the employment of a gardener.

Everyone can do something to help: join the Friends, come along on workdays, help with events, donate cash. Why? Because the park’s worth it!

 

Oi you! ****** off!

Last year, I wrote a blog post about the felling of one of the largest trees in the park and some months later, in another blog post, mentioned that the council had planted some replacement trees.

So, it was a huge disappointment to find this the other day:

oak tree damage IMG_20160318_090828

Can you see what’s missing? There were two oak trees planted, but now there is one! Well, actually, it’s one and a half! It looks to me like this was done deliberately as I can’t see how it could have happened by accident. I came across the broken-off part elsewhere in the park, minus all its leaves.

This act of vandalism was preceded by another a few days earlier when the ball-play area, picnic table, bins and a tree were daubed with spray paint. The council were quick to deal with this (thank you!) and jet-washed it off successfully.

Also, an enamel bowl that was used for drinking water for dogs was badly damaged; the enamel had come off in patches and the metal deformed. I can only surmise that it was subjected to intense heat. It has now disappeared altogether.

A fairly regular occurrence is damage to stone walls and flower beds, neither of them terribly serious in the grand scheme of things but certainly irritating and requiring repair or replacement.

I really can’t understand what drives people to this kind of anti-social behaviour. Obviously, they don’t care for the park. And if that is the case, why do they come to the park at all? Why not just go away? Hang out somewhere else? Why cause damage? There is no easy answer I’m afraid and, sadly, no easy solution to the problem either. But we mustn’t allow ourselves to become downhearted. In a way, I feel quite sorry for the poor sods who did this because if this is their idea of having a good time then their lives must be very boring. There’s so much more they could be doing instead. So, come on you guys and gals, find something better to do.

As for the rest of us, who don’t indulge in vandalism, we need to visit the park as often as possible. And if we spot anything untoward, we should report it to the appropriate authority. Those of us who are parents, grandparents, carers or in a position to influence children, must teach them to respect the park  – I know we all do this already, but……

And here’s my message to whoever is doing this stuff: ****** off! Go and annoy someone else!

Room with a view

As some of you may know, the knitting group meets in the park pavilion every Friday, and raises funds for park improvements. A recent project was the re-opening of a window overlooking the park. Normally, this wouldn’t be anything to shout about. But, for the knitters, who meet in all weathers throughout the year, it’s a really big deal because, until a couple of weeks ago, there was no natural light in the room. It’s often too cold to have the door open, the windows at the back are boarded up (for security) and the window overlooking the park didn’t function as such having been obscured by a notice-board. You would never have guessed that there was a window under the notice-board – I suspect it was put there as a security ‘feature’, to prevent vandalism. However, all of this security meant that the inside of the pavilion was always dark and there was no knowing what the weather was up to outside, who was out there or what was happening. Not ideal, I think you would agree.

So, the knitters decided that their next park project would be to pay for the window to be revealed. This meant the notice-board would need to moved to an adjacent wall and a security grille would have to be made to protect the window. With a bit of input from the Friends of the park and knitters as to what was required, the Council arranged for the work to be done and – and this is the best bit: also decided to pay for it – YAY!

The pavilion has now been transformed into a room with a view.

pavilion window revealed IMG_20160313_091023

The notice-board is now on the wall on the right and the window (the smaller one of the two) has a removable board inside on which we will be able to have displays, information, photos etc. An additional notice-board, if you like, but one that can be moved whenever light and a view are required.

And a lovely view it is too:)

pav view 1 IMG_20160313_091333

pav view 2 IMG_20160313_091349

OK, the security grille and reinforced glass don’t give the clearest of views but its tons better than not having any view at all. And it’s quite  amazing what a difference it has made; how something so simple has cheered everyone up.

So, a big thank you to Stockport Council for getting this done and for paying for it – much appreciated by us all. The money that the knitters were going to spent on this job will now be used to make other improvements in the pavilion. Watch this space!

World Wildlife Day

Did you know? It’s UN World Wildlife Day today! This year’s theme is ‘The future of wildlife is in our hands’. Whether it’s elephants, pandas, robins or wrens, we can all do our bit to make the world a safer place for wildlife.

There was an interesting article in today’s Manchester Evening News, written by Alan Wright, Communications Officer at The Wildlife Trust of Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside.  After years of allowing dogs to misbehave, the Trust has put up signs at a nature reserve asking that dogs be kept on leads. And it seems that this has caused a bit of a hullabaloo! Dog owners are complaining that there’s nowhere for dogs to run free because all the local parks are now insisting on dogs being under proper control of their owners. Mr Wright, a dog owner himself, allows his dog off the lead but puts him back on when approached by other dogs on leads, dog unknown to him or by small, lively children. He carries poo bags at all times and disposes of them in appropriate bins, often picking up what other dog owners have failed to pick up in addition to his own dog’s gift. He writes that ‘spring is the nesting season for animals and birds. Letting your dog off the lead to go searching through bushes, grasslands and mosses spells havoc for nesting birds and fledglings.’ The main problem in areas looked after by the Trust are dog poo, aggressive dogs, dogs attacking wildlife and angry owners. Sound familiar??

Our park may be tiny in comparison to anything the Trust looks after but our problems are similar and the same size!

In my opinion it’s the definition of ‘being under the control of the owner’ that is unclear to many people and leads to the majority of problems. There are many dogs in our park who, when called by the owner, do not return straight away. There are also dogs who run off,  well away from their owners and out of sight – you can usually hear these owners calling for them as they walk round. Yes, they all eventually return to their owners but there’s no knowing what they’ve been up to while running free.

The dog wardens have placed a number of notices around the park stating that dogs must be kept under control.But, until that is clearly defined, the interpretation will be as varied as the breeds seen in the park. How about insisting that all dogs in the park must be kept on a lead? That used to be the case some years ago!

 

Here we are again, taking a closer look at our canine companions. And this time we’re hot on the heels of names beginning with H.

There are two Harveys, a Harry, Holly, Herne.

Then there’s very boisterous Hector, who is 10 months old and so sweet that he gets away with most things.

Now, Hardy, a Bedlington Terrier, had me scratching my head for a while. I thought his owner told me he was a Bridlington Terrier but I couldn’t find such a breed when I googled it. However, I can take heart from the fact that Bridlington and Bedlington are on the North East coast and not that far from each other – so, my mistake wasn’t huge!

And, last but not least, we have two Henrys:

Henry IMG_20150725_095128

 

Henry schnauzer IMG_20151106_124814

As you can see, one of the above is a pedigree and the other a bit of a mixture. Hmm, I wonder if that makes them a Hooray and a Horrid?

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