Knitting is a bit like a drug. Once tried and liked, it’s really hard to stay off it, and any absence is liable to cause distressing withdrawal symptoms. Someone who is severely addicted will knit almost anything they can get their hands on – new yarn, recycled yarn, string, video tape, cassette tape, torn strips of fabric, ribbon, raffia, plastic bags and even liquorice.  I have to admit that knitting liquorice would be a waste of effort for me as it would take just seconds for the finished item to end up in my mouth! And knitting with plastic bags, or ‘plarn’ as it’s called, is (since the charges for bags were introduced) a luxury few of us can afford these days.

On a par with trying to knit with whatever stringy stuff the obsessive knitter is able to find, is the list of items that knitters will attempt to create. Ranging from soft, luxurious cashmere clothes – scarves, jumpers, baby booties; through to household items such as tea cosies, cushions, blankets; accessories such as bags, hair slides, brooches; through to items such as clocks, vegetables,  animals (not forgetting animal clothing), toys and dolls’ clothes, and many many more……..

One of the Knitting Friends recently knitted several sets of dolls’ clothes which she donated to Charnwood Nursery.

Sheila's doll's clothes IMG_20160420_124734

Sheila's doll's clothes on dolls IMG_20160420_124634

I’m sure you’ll agree that the children will really enjoy playing with these and will wish that Sheila had knitted them in a larger size – for a 3 or 4 yr old🙂 .

More about the Knitting Friends soon…….


One tree per child

Have you heard about the One Tree Per Child programme that Bristol City Council started in 2015?  What a brilliant project!

The idea was for 36,000 trees to be planted, one for (and hopefully by) every primary school child, to mark the city’s status as European Green Capital 2015. In actual fact, they have already planted over 39,000!

The council teamed up with the Australian One Tree Per Child initiative founded by Olivia Newton-John and Australian environmentalist, Jon Dee. In 1993 they came up with the idea of a National Tree day in Australia which, over the years, has resulted in the planting of over 10 million trees. Last year, together with Jon’s daughter Estelle, they decided to take the project further – branched out so to speak – and started an international project. The idea is to have every child under ten plant a tree as part of an official school initiative. Children will have the experience of planting a tree at a young age and as their trees grow, so too will the children’s love and respect for the environment. The first tree for the project was planted in March 2015 in the middle of Hyde Park in London. Bristol had the honour of becoming the first city involved and is now the role model for the project.

Read more about Olivia Newton-John and this project here.

Wouldn’t it be great if Stockport Council was to join this initiative too? It would give everyone a stake in the future of their local environment and, depending on the type of tree planted, an opportunity to grow free food. I’m sure that it would teach children to look after all trees, not just the ones they had personally planted.

Maybe, we could start with something along these lines, on a smaller scale, just in our park?  Perhaps if we did, we wouldn’t find newly planted trees broken!  You might recall me writing, not that long ago, about five trees that Stockport Council had planted in the park. I was miffed (to put it politely) to see that one of them had been broken. Well, now another one has suffered the same fate.  Such a shame😦

Another broken tree IMG_20160510_092129


I want our young people to respect what is growing in our parks, so anything that might encourage them to think this way has to be a good idea. Come on SMBC, what are you waiting for?








At the end of April we had frost, sleet, hail and other, unusual for the time of year and quite wintery, conditions. Barely two weeks later, we  have what we could even call summer weather – sunshine, warmth, blue skies…… There were loads of people in the park today enjoying themselves – Friends of the park on a work day, families with children playing games, tennis players, runners, even some sunbathers. It’s really great seeing the park used so well.

We all know that we should aim to be fit and active to be healthier but this isn’t as easy to do for some people as for others. However, there is help and encouragement for anyone who wants/needs it. The Moor Running Friends have been going now for three years – here’s what I wrote just after they started:

New Year Resolutions continue for this newly formed group of running fitness enthusiasts who meet in the park every Saturday at 11:00 for an hour’s exercise.

The sessions are FREE and are led by a qualified Run England/UK Athletics Run Group Leader. There are still places available – contact Chris Hodkinson on 0161 366 9763 to register.

Whether you have never run before, last ran (for a bus!) decades ago, or are a regular runner and super fit, give the group a try.

If you want more info about them, search under ‘Moor Running Friends’. The group is very active and always keen to welcome new members.

Another local group is the Sustainable Living in the Heatons group which will be organising bike rides throughout the summer – not around our small park though, a bit further afield.

Sus Liv bike rides IMG_20160507_160318

Sounds good? I think so!

While on the subject of bicycles I must mention that I regularly see families in the mornings cycling through the park on their way to school. There are at least a couple of family groups – parents with children – and the children have been cycling to school since they were around 5 years old. Not something you see often these days. And there are also families dropping kids off at school accompanied by pre-schoolers on small bikes and scooters – lovely to see🙂

There are, of course, less strenuous, gentle exercises that are good for the body, and soul too. I sometimes see people doing Tai Chi  in the park – usually just one person on their own. It might be an idea to have a regular group meeting up to do this – like they do in China.

And then, of course, there’s the knitting group – still going strong and shortly due to celebrate their fifth anniversary. A gentle form of exercise, you would agree? But a word of warning: do be careful not to get RSI from knitting, like one of the ladies did very recently!

It goes without saying that all sports and exercise should be undertaken with care so as to avoid injury. You don’t want to do what I did the other day. Enthused by the sunny day, I shed my coat, my scarf, my woolly jumper, wore sandals on bare feet – what bliss! what joy! It was practically a heatwave! I went for a long walk and then hobbled around for the next few days because of the blisters on my feet!

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!


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