I loved how pretty the trees looked sporting their white coats. These trees are at the top of Byres Road, opposite the Botanic Gardens.
This is the picture I drew in the in-laws’ garden last week. I really like this one, I think I like the colours particularly. The perspective is totally out (the big plant barrel is probably more than twice its actual size in this picture and I didn’t leave enough room after drawing the bracket to draw the basket that’s hanging from it), and the plants are hardly accurate. But hey, odd perspective and accuracy didn’t do Picasso any harm, eh? 🙂
By the way, thank you everyone for your concern, actually the man flu seems not to have materialised, so that’s good. I still don’t feel entirely right (quiet at the back please!) but I think this is just regularly scheduled big girl’s blouse-ness rather than death throes. So that’s alright then.
Slow news day today (I eventually got my work off to the supervisors, but it took ages as it ended up being twice as long as I’d originally planned. I’ve no idea how I’m going to stick to less than 100,000 words!) so I thought I’d put up a drawing I did. I actually did this one in June, but only got round to scanning it this evening. It’s of a corner of the inlaws’ garden in Luton – not one of my best, but not one of the worst either! I must try and do one more before the weather puts paid to sitting outside with my sketchpad till next year.
HD and I have just spent a nice afternoon wandering round the grounds at Wrest Park, which is an English National Heritage place in Bedfordshire, a stately home with extensive gardens which were landscaped by Capability Brown (though rather more formal than the other Capability Brown gardens I’ve seen). Here are some pics:
A very lovely afternoon out 🙂
In other news, in church this morning I was amused by this little snippet in the notice sheet:
6.30pm First Eucharist celebrated by [curate who was priested yesterday]
Would all worshippers please make sure that they are familiar with the evacuation plan displayed in Church, and note that there are no fire exits at the altar end of the Church.
I’m pretty sure they’re separate notices, but it read as though they were part of the same notice, which got me thinking that this might well be a Eucharist to remember – it got me thinking about the Vicar of Dibley wedding, with fireworks as she walked up the aisle. Pyrotechnic Eucharist, now that would be something – perhaps we should suggest it for Greenbelt, they have everything-else Eucharists.
In other other news, we’ve just been watching Neil Diamond at Glastonbury on the telly. How fantastic is he? – he was brilliant! I would have loved to have been in the crowd singing along to “Sweet Caroline”, that would have been great! I want to get his new album, which I think means I’m officially a fogey. But I’m a fogey and proud of it 😀
This weekend Glasgow has been hosting the biannual Radiance Light Festival – which is basically where you wander round the Merchant City area and come across lots of random light installations. Possibly the bizarrest we saw (we went this evening) was the giant lightbulb-suspended-from-a-crane (it’s Art, you know). HD wasn’t massively impressed, I enjoyed it but didn’t see anything that made me really stop in my tracks. Walking round the Necropolis (the Cathedral graveyard – reminiscent of Nunhead Cemetery for the south Londoners in my readership) in the dark (apart from the light installations) was interesting though – that’s a place I’ve always been meaning to go and take lots of pictures, but I think I’ll do it in daylight. The lights in the trees in the Zen Garden at the front of the Cathedral were pretty though, I liked them. I took lots of pictures, most look like you’d imagine photos taken in the dark of light installations would look like (ie not great!), but there were a few I was pleased with, so I’ll stick some of them up on my Glasgow photo blog later this week.
In other news, we are finally getting our act together. With less than 5 weeks till the wedding, it’s probably just as well – this week’s jobs include paying the hotel and booking the honeymoon amongst other things (so minor details then!).
Neil has just pointed out that there seems to be an outbreak of serious-itis on the wiblogs this week. As my last two entries, though serious for me, aren’t the most deep-and-meaningful things I’ve ever written, I thought I’d write a wee bit about something I’ve been meaning to for a while, and realistically this is my last chance to do so (I really am going to pack up the computer later today, honest!).
So, carbon offsetting. It’s been in the news a fair bit lately, and on the surface seems like a good idea, planting trees (often, although other green measures are also supported depending on which company you go with) to “offset” the CO2 emitted as the result of lifestyle choices (such as flying). There has been some debate though as to the effectiveness of this – there’s no way of measuring accurately how many trees need planting (or whatever) in order to offset fossil fuel use, with different companies varying wildly as to how much they say you should pay in order to offset the same journey leading to accusations of profiteering. Plus there’s debate about how effective it is as if a tree is planted it will take many years for it to reach its full carbon-absorbing potential, whilst the carbon that’s already been emitted (and which you’re paying to offset) is already doing its damage. My own thoughts are that whilst it’s far from perfect, I do worry about commercial organisations who seem to be playing on yet another aspect of people’s consciences in order to gain profit, and until everyone does it it’s surely only going to be a drop in the ocean anyway, still planting trees/other green stuff is surely better than planting no trees, even on the individual level, so recognising that it’s an imperfect system I’m still inclined to do something rather than nothing. I do wonder though whether it’s as much about trying to assuage my middle-class tree-hugging guilt as it is about trying to be effective.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the last year because, as most of you know, I’m currently in a long-distance relationship which has involved both of us taking a lot of domestic flights in order to see each other regularly. And, to be honest, even though I hate the thought of my carbon footprint at the moment, I’m also really grateful for cheap domestic flights as without them it would have been much more difficult to sustain the relationship. HD is totally worth the hassle and effort of all the travelling, and I don’t begrudge any of it, but I am glad that once we’re married that particular hassle will be over as we’ll be at the same end of the country! Which also means that I’ll feel infinitely less guilty and find it much easier to tick all the boxes about pledging to take fewer flights!
I do want to do my bit to minimise the damage though while we’re still in the long-distance side of things, so I was really pleased to find a Scottish charity which seems to be treating the issue sensibly. It is doing the whole tree-planting thing, and when I first discovered them they provided calculators for working out your carbon footprint and how to offset it and all that, but looking at it again just now they seem to have taken a more nuanced (and realistic) approach, including not being so simplistic as to just say x hours of flying = y number of trees = £z. So I feel that by contributing to them I will be doing more than just giving money to a company which is jumping on a bandwagon. Here’s a link: Trees for Life. In the meantime, I can also think about finding other ways of reducing emissions – later this year I’ll be buying a new boiler, I could change to a greener energy supplier, try to recycle more, carry on composting*, the usual stuff. I know I’m only a drop in the ocean. But one drop less is still less than one drop more. I can’t change the world single-handed, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t contribute to changing the world.
* Talking of which – I took my compost to the garden (see blog entries passim) this morning and got chatting to the gardener, I told him about the letter-writing and he said that quite a few people had been doing that and it seems to be having an effect. I think the team he works for comes under one of the local housing associations, and he said that the director had mentioned to him recently how concerned people seem to be and how much they seem to care about the garden like he hadn’t realised before how much people valued and needed these areas of green space which are well cared-for and looked after and have value in their own right. So hopefully my letters, along with the others, will have an impact even if I felt I was standing up for a principle but wasn’t really expecting to achieve much with them.
I got back to the Stately Pile this evening to a number of letters in Scottish Parliament envelopes. So despite the fact that campaigning for the Scottish elections (on May 3rd) starts in earnest tomorrow, at least some of them are still remembering us oiks they were elected to serve. So I thought I’d give you an update on the state of play so far in terms of responses to my garden letter:
V.good response from:
* Regional MSP (Green) (probably unsurprising, that, given the topic) promising to lend his support to the continuation of the garden.
Good response from:
* Regional MSP (Solidarity) – enclosed a copy of a letter he’d sent to the council land services recently having had a number of letters from concerned residents, and saying he’d let me know the response.
* Regional MSP (SNP) – short and terse but agreeing with me that the garden should be preserved for the community and saying would make enquiries and get back to me.
OK response from:
* Regional MSP (LibDem) – apparently the garden was always meant to be a temporary feature, but agreed that the recycling/environmental action and work experience for young people needs to continue – no indication they’ll be doing anything else about it though.
Poor-ish response from:
* Constituency MSP (Labour) – as previously mentioned, he says he’s not the MSP for the garden’s street, but would pass my letter onto the council and get back to me with any response.
Poor response from:
* Regional MSP (Conservative) – as it’s a planning issue it’s nothing to do with him, run along dear and take it to the council.
Responses still outstanding from:
* Westminster MP (Labour)
* Local councillor (Labour)
* Regional MSP (SNP)
* Regional MSP (SSP)
It’s interesting that with green issues so high on the agenda and an election so imminent, something like this can really highlight how much of a priority it *really* is for politicians.
I received the first reply today from the assorted MPs, MSPs and whatnot to whom I’d written the other week about the impending development on the nearby community garden (see 3rd March entry and the one linked to from there for details). Rather annoyingly, my constituency MSP (for it was he) informs me that although I live in his constituency, the garden isn’t in his constituency so he can’t do anything about it, other than writing to the appropriate councillor on my behalf (if he’d bothered to read my letter properly he would see that I’d already done that myself, as I informed him in the opening sentence of all the people to whom my letters were being addressed). A much more helpful thing for him to do would be to inform the Scottish Parliament website MSP searchy doodah thingy (technical term) about the constituency boundary – being aware that I live near the border of the constituency, but not being entirely sure where the border was exactly, I put in both my postcode and that of the garden road and both times it said that the MSP was the same. Bah.
HD reminded me yesterday about the garden I blogged about last month, just asking what if anything was happening. I’d not been back there since that blog entry last month, but I was back there today to take my regular offering to the compost heap, and I’m really pleased to see that they’ve started to replant the area – flower beds have been rebuilt, some daffs are already showing, and coloured tyres are out waiting to be filled with new compost. They’ve also redone the pathways – all natural and so allowing drainage rather than having paving slabs which don’t. There wasn’t anybody there to ask what’s going on, but as I understood it although they were replanting the site is still under threat from potential redevelopment. My letters to MP, MSPs and councillor are all written. This is my Note to Self to get some stamps and actually send them.
Today’s Count Your Blessings challenge is proving a real eye-opener. I can’t believe how much I take turning on a tap and receiving clean water for granted. Hand-washing, making a cup of tea, filling the iron, putting water in the bucket to mop the close, drinking water, all usually done without a second thought and completely unappreciated. It’s good to be made more aware of these things. I was also thankful as I looked at the garden letters waiting to be posted that I live in a country where I can write to my elected representatives and express my views and hold them to account. How many people don’t have that luxury?
I’ve posted these photos here before (I took them last September), they’re of the little community garden near where I live where I take my veg peelings and whatnot to be composted. I went there earlier today as I had a full compost bin, and the guys who work for GREAT who created and maintain the garden for the community were in the shed so I stopped for a quick chat. I’d noticed the last few times that I’ve been to the garden that the beds have been gradually removed, so the garden is now basically a pile of mud, and I assumed that they had dismantled it so that it could be rebuilt as part of their work (they do a lot of training of volunteers and local unemployed youths in gardening skills etc). Actually it turns out that there are some plans to build new housing on the site, and they’d had to dig up the garden so that the developers could get their gear in to drill holes and check that the land was suitable for building on. There’s apparently a petition to sign, but it’s not online and the shop which they said had a copy didn’t know what I was talking about, so I can feel a letter to the local MP, MSPs and councillors coming on. I’m so upset. The guys did say they will be rebuilding the garden – it was looking so lovely last year, I really hope they’re able to. What is wrong with these bloody bureaucrats?