Today was one of those glorious Autumn days, cold and bright, with a lovely fresh smell in the air. For a while now I’ve been wondering how many trees the council planted alongside the new dual carriageway near me have actually survived, so I thought I go take a look. Short answer from the small survey of 216 trees on one particular stretch: 16% have died.
The Northern Distributor Road (NDR) has been open for a few years now, and had lots of trees planted alongside it to try to restore the damage done by the road. We’re supposed to call it the Broadland Northway now; I think this is probably an effort by Norfolk County Council to disguise the fact that its purpose is to open up the countryside to more development, distributing traffic to new parts of the county.
Unfortunately, many of the trees planted have died due to the extreme weather we’ve been having. It’s just been too hot and dry, and they haven’t been watered sufficiently. A plethora of plastic tree guards now stand empty in many places, grave markers for the saplings that have sadly perished. It was good to see so many other plants growing in the verge alongside the road, however I’m sure Yarrow shouldn’t be flowering at this time of year; I guess that’s because of how warm it’s been.
My plant ID skills aren’t brilliant, but I saw Comfrey, Yarrow, Ribwort and Greater Plantain, as well as thistles, Red Campion, Hogweed, Common Mugwort in abundance, Oxeye Daisies and Buttercups. There were loads of other species however I’ll have to take along a guide to ID them next time. Roadside verges can contain lots of biodiversity, I’ve seen hares feeding alongside the cycle path, kestrels hunting, and lots of insects in the summer. However, I don’t think the verges really make up for the swathe of destruction caused when the road was built.
Today was an exploratory visit. I counted trees on a hundred metre stretch not far from the Plumsteads, noting down species as well as dead or missing trees. I concentrated on the eastern side of the bank built up next to the dual carriageway, which is more shaded. The western side looked to have more empty tree guards, however it’ll need a return visit to confirm this. Results of this initial exploratory survey below.
TREE SURVEY 25 NOV 2022
Here’s a pie chart of the results.
Field Maple came our top, followed by Hawthorn, however it was good to see other species mixed in such as Cherry, Spindle, a good number of English Oaks, Dogwood and Blackthorn. Lots of good species for wildlife to use. Unfortunately 16% of the tree guards were either standing empty, or had dead saplings inside them. I suspect the percentage is in fact a bit higher than this as some tree guards have either been removed or have blown away. I think the western side of the bank will have a bigger percentage of dead trees, and I know other stretches have been impacted to a greater or lesser degree. I’ll have to get out and do other surveys in different locations.
I believe around 6,000 trees were cut down to build the NDR, a road that cost £205m to build. It was reported in October last year that around 3,500 of the trees planted to replace those lost when the road was built have died. Norfolk County Council pledged to plant 5 trees for every 1 they cut down, 30,000 in total. They must be a long way off this target, especially as many more trees and shrubs, lots of them replacement replacements, perished during the heatwave this summer.
It’s frustrating that Norfolk County Council think you can just replace mature trees and habitat, destroyed to make way for road building, with saplings that will take decades to do anything meaningful in terms of carbon sequestration. It will also take centuries for the soil to recover, species to translocate, and for any sort of mature woodland landscape to settle back in. The Council are planning the same with the Northern Distributor Road; it just doesn’t add up when we’re in a climate and ecological emergency, not to mention the impact it has on local communities, flood mitigation, and local wildlife. It’s also frustrating to see so many empty plastic tree guards littering parts of the landscape next to the NDR.
I hope to get out for further surveys over the coming weeks so I can report back findings to Broadland Green Party, who will be able to raise this with Broadland District Council. Tree ID gets a bit trickier as they lose their leaves, so I’ll have to put my winter buds knowledge to use.
No pictures of Gideon on this blog post I’m afraid, he’s hiding somewhere after having an argument with one of the neighbour’s cats. I’ll leave you with some pictures of a glorious Norfolk sunset from the other evening.
Happy Halloween to one and all. The thing that scares me most this Halloween is how hot it is for October. Doesn’t bode well for more extreme weather events, and what it could be like next Spring/Summer. It’s terrifying how little the Government is doing about reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Just lies and false accounting. Sunak won’t even go to COP27. Meanwhile temperatures are forever creeping up and up.
Before I get on to my wanderings in the Wensum Valley yesterday, I went for a dusk walk round Salhouse on Friday evening, mildly spooky, and weird to be walking around in just a t-shirt.
I love Salhouse Church and the Yew Trees around it. They are covered in berries this year, best not to eat them though. The big skies of Norfolk also offer some great sunsets and night skies.
On to the Wensum Valley where I went for a long walk yesterday. Has to be said it was quite damp, but it’s always regenerative to be in such a special place. I meandered round some of the areas that will be destroyed if the planned Western Link road goes ahead, ploughing through wetland, areas of ancient woodland, and very rare chalk stream habitat. This diverse and ancient landscape, the last green corridor into Norwich, needs to be protected. There’s an endangered super-colony of Barbastelle Bats that make their home there; might be the only super-colony of its sort in the UK.
I made a short film of my visit. The sound of the River Wensum babbling it’s way to Norwich was very calming. There was also a guest pig appearance.
Norfolk County Council are championing the link road, which will compromise the rare chalk stream habitat and the species that live there, as well as increase carbon emissions and pollution. It will also open the countryside up to yet more development. Surely public money should instead be spent on public and active transport, and to help people with the cost of living crisis. Norfolk County Council really need to move with the times and get over their addiction to road building and unsustainable growth.
This morning I ascertained that pyramid tea bags are easier to throw into a mug at a distance of 2 metres, than the standard round tea bags. I feel I’ve done some important science.
I wish decision makers, the courts and big business would listen to scientists more. It feels like they should do, rather than paying too much attention to the likes of Rupert Murdoch and his minions, or fossil fuel company lobbyists. Shell just announced grotesque profits of £8.1bn in the last quarter.
Meanwhile we have a cost of living crisis and a climate crisis. People are dying from famine and drought in Africa, and 33 million people have been displaced in Pakistan due to floods. Harvest failures around the world, heatwaves, wild fires, permafrost melt, extreme weather, ocean death, the list goes on. People will die from the cold in the UK this winter as they can’t afford to heat their homes, and others can’t afford to buy food. The London fire brigade had their busiest period since the Second World War this summer due to wildfires; 60 people lost their homes in the UK.
All this is being driven by our continued reliance on fossil fuels, which is being driven by these massive energy companies (BP, Shell, Exxon, Gazprom etc) and their greed, plus a complicit Government. Our futures and our children’s futures are at stake, as well as much of life on Earth. Large regions of the planet are likely to become uninhabitable during my lifetime, and the target to contain global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial averages is blown; the UN have said today that there is no credible path in place to meet this. Billions of people are going to have to move – mass migration – resulting in war for remaining resources and the rise of the far right. It’s already happening.
More reports from climate scientists out yesterday; they, the IPCC, Antonio Guterres, Sir David Attenborough, Sir David King, they’re all screaming from the rooftops that we need to slash emissions now, but they’re being ignored in favour of growth and profit. Check out the lancet if you want more info – https://www.thelancet.com/countdown-health-climate. This ongoing mantra that economic growth is good is false. It’s killing us.
But yeah, why should we listen to scientists? Why listen to people that really know their stuff and are shouting into the void about how dire the situation is? They’re desperate, grief stricken, in tears a lot of the time. They’re telling the truth, but our criminal Government aren’t listening. Even worse a lot of the scientific papers or statements by the IPCC (Inter Governmental Panel of Climate Change) don’t tell us exactly how bad it is, as they’re peer reviewed to ensure mass consensus on what’s published, and often dumbed down due to pressure from oil and gas industry lobbyists. If you want to avoid becoming overly depressed about it avoid having a pint down the pub with a climate scientist.
COP27 starts on 06 November. I’m not holding out any hope for anything concrete to come out of it in terms of legally binding cuts in emissions. They’ll be a tonne of green washing, and once again I expect the largest delegation will be from fossil fuel companies sowing misdirection and scepticism about what is scientific fact – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-63316362
When ordinary concerned individuals, including scientists, protest about Government inaction and their complicity in the destruction of our futures, they get chastised and locked up, called selfish, told they’re damaging their cause. Protest and non-violent civil disobedience is our last port of call in demanding change. We’ve known how bad things are for 30 or 40 years, but writing letters, signing petitions, and talking to politicians hasn’t changed anything. We know a direct action form of protest works, it got people the vote, including women via the Suffragettes, and the Chartists (working class rights). It worked for the American civil rights movement, and the Indian independence movement. It can work for the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced.
The Government want to bring in the Public Order Bill to silence freedom of speech and stop protests. There are measures in the Bill that will turn us into a police state similar to Iran, Russia or Syria. Tracking devices on people regarded as potential trouble makers, bans from protesting, curfews; even if you haven’t attended a protest before. I find this both terrifying and enraging. How have we let things come to this? Suella Braverman wants to bring in laws that will slide us into fascism. She dreams of putting refugees on plane flights to Rwanda for god’s sake.
So yeah, maybe more people need to listen to scientists. We’ve got a few years to turn things round, or we face societal collapse.
Here’s a short film I put together of ordinary people from the East of England taking direct action outside the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy last week. Brave and eloquent individuals doing all they can to demand change.
Looking forward to the Norwich beer festival later. Argh. Cognitive dissonance. Maybe I’ll try and write a blog post on that next.
Short (ish) film I made of Just Stop Oil supporters from East of England taking action in Shoreditch on 15 October.
Their demand – No new oil and gas projects. We have 8 years of oil and gas reserves, which is enough to transition to renewable energy which is 9 times cheaper and far quicker to build. Mean while companies like BP and Shell make billions at our expense.
Very proud of these people, my friends, taking non-violent direct action in a hostile environment to demand change. It has unfortunately come to this to draw attention to the crisis we’re in, as writing letters, signing petitions, and trying to talk to a more than useless Government doesn’t work.
Civil Resistance to this corrupt Government may be the only way we can ensure a survivable future.
Warning: Film contains some scenes of violence and swearing some may find uncomfortable.
Today has to go down as pretty memorable in terms of stuff that’s happened in my lifetime, although not in a particularly good way. Liz Truss resigns, the shortest ever UK Prime Minister; not in terms of stature, rather in terms of term served. It really seems like the blind leading the blind in the Tory party at the moment. A shambles. Complete chaos. Other adjectives no doubt apply. The ‘Have I Got News For You’ Twitter account summarised things quite well:
BREAKING: Only 67 more Cabinet ministers till Christmas.
BREAKING: The Government.
Truss resigns. U-turn expected imminently.
I mean, you really couldn’t make this up.
Here’s a nice picture of Gideon, my cat, just to calm things down a bit before I continue. He doesn’t really care about UK Politics, although he is a bit vexed about me going down to London repeatedly to complain about the Government and Oil companies, leaving him without lap time and treats (lies).
If this blog post ends up not making much sense it might be because I’ve caught covid again. I caught it the first time around in September 2021 and it wasn’t too bad, aside from losing my sense of smell and taste for a bit. This time I have the annoying persistent cough and am generally feeling a bit crap, hence this post might go off-road. Gideon says it’s my fault for going to the germ filled capital and leaving him to fend for himself (the latter is also lies).
Alright, on to the serious stuff. Because the farce going on in the Houses of Parliament at the moment is nothing compared with the challenges facing ordinary people in the UK. Or the challenges we face on a wider front due to the climate and ecological crisis. Thousands in the Global South (non-western nations) are already dying.
I was thinking about it today, and whilst the Tories can’t even agree on a Prime Minister and Cabinet, the following is happening:
UK people are being forced to choose between heating or eating, or can’t afford either. Children in the UK are suffering now, and 1000’s of the elderly may die this winter due to the cold.
I read about a kid today who pretended to eat stuff out of an empty lunch box cos his family can’t afford food, and he doesn’t qualify for free school meals. He didn’t want to be embarrassed in front of his friends.
Inflation and interest rates are hitting ordinary folks hard, whilst the rich just get richer. Big energy companies like BP and Shell are making record profits at our expense, and the Government refuses to tax them.
Division in the UK, between the rich and the poor, as well as different communities, is getting worse. One has to conclude this is an active policy by the Government to make sure we don’t unite against them.
Harvests are failing around the world due to extreme weather, driving up food prices. I read East Anglian potato harvests are down by as much as 50% due to the hot and dry weather.
Floods in Pakistan have killed thousands and displaced 33 million people. Imagine for a minute if that happened in the UK.
Floods in Nigeria kill 100’s and displace over a million. One person every 36 seconds is estimated to be dying from hunger in East Africa. Drought and famine in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan – list not exhaustive. These crises are all exacerbated by Climate Change but you won’t hear about it as much because, you know, it’s Africa rather than Florida.
The Amazon and rainforests around the world continue to be slashed and burned to make room for farming – mostly cattle or to grow animal feed. The Amazon is now at, or may have crossed, a tipping point towards savannah/desert.
Wildfires still rage, heatwaves are getting worse and killing people, conflict for remaining resources is increasing often breaking out into all out war (e.g. Ukraine).
The refugee crises just gets worse and worse, many of them climate refugees, and we want to fly them to Rwanda.
Civil liberties, the right to protest and freedom of speech are being restricted and criminalised by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, and now the Public Order Bill; please look the latter up as it’s truly dystopian and scary, and will turn the UK into a police state like Russia, Syria or Iran.
I’ve not added lots of climate and ecological items to the above list, but lets not forget oceans are dying from over-fishing and acidification, insect numbers have plummeted, rare habitats are still being destroyed, we’re still slaughtering mammals for sport or ‘scientific research’, and parts of the world are becoming uninhabitable. Greenhouse Gas emissions are still going up, and we’re seeing dangerous levels of methane released from the permafrost that could trigger a rapid extinction level event. Oh, and storms really are getting fiercer and more frequent.
People often ask when societal collapse is going to happen? When will the apocalypse strike? I think it’s already happening right before our eyes. Given all the above how can it not be? We’re hanging on by a thread and whilst it could take years, there may be no coming back from it now.
I really think mainstream media is very much to blame for a lot of this. They fail to report key issues, concentrating instead on trivialities and celebrity culture. They vilify or ridicule ordinary people taking action to try and bring about change, and scare off anyone else who was thinking about taking action. A few billionaires own the majority of mainstream media. I think it’s safe to assume they’re just protecting their own interests at everyone else’s expense, and most are blind to it because we’re hit with their messaging day in day out. Just watch the film ‘Don’t Look Up’ to see what’s happening; terrifyingly accurate.
But it’s ok, because the world’s Governments have got this all in hand, haven’t they?
Bollocks they have. COP26 was a failure, and COP27 is likely to be too with fossil fuel companies having far too much influence, and green washing endemic. In politics short-termism is rife, egos abound, lobbyists make sure the Government doesn’t upset the status quo, and the police and criminal justice system is clamping down on any dissenting voices. Any politicians who make it into serious positions of power seem to only have their own interests at heart, or are narcissists, or frankly psychopaths.
So what can we do? Just start doing something at least. Recently I’ve been down in London taking direct action with Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil. Why? Because nothing else is working and civil disobedience has a track record of bringing about a change. Writing letters, signing petitions, talking to your MP or even going on marches have very limited if no impact. Check out this film clip from Zoe Broughton of Lora Johnson, a Just Stop Oil activist.
At the moment 100’s of Just Stop Oil supporters are being arrested down in London for demanding a different future, an end to new oil and gas projects. 1000’s of Extinction Rebellion activists have been arrested over the last few years for demanding the Government tell the truth, act now, and form citizens assemblies to guide us through a just transition.
We’re not saying stop using oil and gas right now, we’re saying we can’t afford the emissions from any new projects, and yet the Government wants to license 130 new oil and gas fields. This goes against what climate scientists, the IPCC, Sir David King, Antonio Gueterres, Sir David Attenborough and many others are saying. We have 2 to 3 years to rapidly reduce green house gas emissions and transition away from fossil fuels or it’s game over. Renewable energy is 9 times cheaper and much quicker to build than extracting new oil and gas, which can take decades to come online.
Why on earth would we want new oil and gas, it’s only purpose at this stage is mega profits for a minority at everyone else’s expense, especially those that live and are dying in the Global South.
Politicians and mainstream media, and members of the public led by this toxic media, are vilifying ordinary people fighting for a future which doesn’t involve more famine, war, death and societal collapse. Here a film mash up I made of a recent Just Stop Oil protest in Trafalgar Square. I’ve got more in the pipeline from last week.
These protestors, ordinary people of all ages and from all walks of life, are some of the kindest, most selfless and courageous people I have ever had the privilege of calling friends and taking peaceful action with. They’re people that have properly emotionally connected with the danger we’re in, not just understood the facts and figures. They are retired, students, have jobs and have taken holiday, or yes they might be between jobs sometimes. And yes they still have to use fossil fuel products because that’s the system we’re stuck with at the moment; we’re all hypocrites to one degree or another.
Yet we are being called selfish, arrogant, and accused of destroying the cause we’re fighting for. Critics say we block emergency vehicles when in fact we have a blue light policy which means we always let them through. The media have slammed two young women for throwing tomato soup on a Van Gogh they knew was covered in glass protection, and two climbers for shutting down the QE2 bridge for two days. People say I agree with your cause but not your methods and that we’re hypocrites; that’s ok, just do something.
So many claims are being made, many of them false, about our actions, however look at what is happening. Spoke persons from Just Stop Oil (JSO) and Extinction Rebellion (XR) are being invited on TV and Radio shows to debate these issues. The newspapers are covering our actions. The public are talking about the climate and ecological crisis, new oil and gas, and insulating homes. People are starting to understand that the cost of living and energy crises are linked to the climate and ecological emergency; we can solve them together with a just transition. And thousands are joining movements like JSO, XR, Enough is Enough and Friends of the Earth. Yes, JSO actions can be regarded as radical and down right annoying, however they push the window, and as a result more people join the more moderate activist flanks.
People hated the Suffragettes and Dr Martin Luther King when they were active, yet the actions they and many others took are regarded as justified and necessary now. Martin Luther King explained the need to create tension to drive change far better than I can.
Please look beyond the headlines when you hear about people taking non-violent direct action to demand change, to demand a survivable future, to demand we stop ecological destruction and new oil and gas projects. They’re not doing it to piss you off, or because they want self-attention, they’re doing it because they’ve realised we’re screwed and this is the only option left to them. And now the Government want to clamp down even harder on these legitimate protests.
Please, whatever you are capable of: Just start doing something.
Just Stop Oil are taking action in London throughout October and into November, meet 11am ish outside Downing Street. Extinction Rebellion are planning to get one hundred thousand people out on the streets next April. There’s a big multi-movement march planned in London on 05 November. Don’t be a bystander, get involved in the fight for our futures.
A calming cat picture of Gideon to round things off, hiding in a wrapping paper tepee for some reason. He is still vexed about me going to London, but really thinks humans are making a right old mess of things and need to step up.
Not sure if I should get ill more or less often if it makes me write blog posts like this. I think I’ll go and watch Question Time to relax now, that should be interesting.
On the longest day of the year Silent Sentinels stood vigil in the Wensum Valley as part of the Stop the Western Link Road campaign.
Sentinels stood vigil from dawn til dusk, immersing themselves in the landscape with reverence and love, whilst observing the destructive drilling that has already started. This is a short film I made of the day.
Norfolk County Council are championing this link road, which will destroy rare chalk stream habitat and species, increase carbon emissions and pollution, and open the countryside up to yet more development. Invest instead in public and active transport, and help people with the cost of living crisis.
The title of this blog post might end up being slightly misleading, that remains to be seen. I’m not entirely sure where it’s gonna go. Best if I start off with some pictures of Gideon, in reclining mode.
The egg box is currently one of his favourite things. He sometimes sleeps on it, which looks very uncomfortable if you ask me. He is very ‘playful’ at the moment, just this morning ambushing me from behind the sofa and savaging my leg; note to self, shorts not always a good idea.
Newsflash just in from BBC – ‘Met police chef Cressida Dick to step down’. Earlier today she said she had no intention of stepping down, so the writing was on the wall really. Maybe now they can appoint someone who will really sort out the institutional racism and misogyny within the police force. I did say I didn’t know where this blog post was going to go didn’t I?
There have been some beautiful sunsets in Norfolk recently. It’s been nice taking a break from work to go and watch them. This one was particularly startling, with an amazing sequence of colours over the course of a few minutes.
Norfolk really does have big skies, which is especially evident when you visit the coast. I popped up to see the seals recently at Horsey Gap, with a couple of friends. Aside from seals, windswept sand dunes, and endless horizon, I just love the sound of the sea and being next to it. I think that’s one the things I loved so much about my Bike around Britain cycle tour in 2013; being next to the sea everyday.
Horsey Gap is home to a massive seal colony, consisting of Atlantic Grey Seals and Common Seals. There must be thousands of them, with thousands of seal pups born every year. Sadly many of them perish before reaching adulthood, but they’re a delight to witness.
When walking down the Norfolk East Coast it’s easy to see how just a small sea level rise could result in massive flooding. It’s so flat behind the dunes, which if breached could see sea water covering vast stretches. I guess it was all under-water once, and probably will be again in the not too distant future.
Did I mention there might be quite a lot of pictures of seals? It’s worth it though, they’re so wonderful to see. The wardens are really good too, able to give you loads of information whilst also keeping the seals safe.
The wardens are very good at keeping people away from the seals, especially those who might otherwise think it’s a good idea to try to pet them, or get a selfie. I am told that if the mother can smell a human on her pup, she may well abandon them, so whilst I’d thoroughly recommend going to see them, best not to get too close.
I took pictures using my old Cannon 550D with a zoom lens, but I think the ones I got on my phone might have actually been better. The Cannon pictures just don’t seem to have picked up the colours as well as the phone. Here are some last ones of mother and pup.
We walked all the way down to Winterton, had some chips and a hot chocolate, and then walked back. I was sad to see the cafe at Winterton is no longer there, due to coastal erosion, however there was a very good circle of food vans which met requirements.
Other stuff that’s been happening. We had a great turnout for the protest versus the proposed Western Link Road. The road will cut through rare chalk stream habitat, endangered Barbastelle bat colonies, and destroy a swathe of precious Norfolk countryside; the last natural corridor into Norwich and its green lungs.
The protest was organised by Norwich Extinction Rebellion, and attended by loads of local groups including Stop the Wensum Link, the Wensum Valley Alliance, Norwich Friends of the Earth, Green New Deal, Green Party and Labour Party councillors and Clive Lewis MP, Trade Union reps and many others. It was so heartening to see so many people come together to oppose an ecocidal road scheme, one that will increase emissions, traffic and pollution, whilst also opening the countryside up to more development. We should be investing the £200m+ it’ll cost for the 4 miles of road into green sustainable transport (buses) and active transport (cycling infrastructure), instead of investing in ultimately our own demise.
Great press coverage and opposition is definitely growing versus the road, with Norwich City Council recently coming out against it. Norfolk County Council and institutions like the University of East Anglia just need to catch up a bit.
But why not also get involved in an opposition group too; let me know if you want to learn more.
Ok, nearly there. I really will try to do blog posts more often so I don’t deluge you with updates.
Have you heard to the Nationality and Borders Bill, currently going through Parliament? It will criminalise refugees and asylum seekers, and allow the Government to strip people with dual-nationality of their UK citizenship without warning (clause 9). It’s pretty awful, and another step towards authoritarianism and fascism. I joined a protest in Norwich against it last Saturday, as I don’t want to see more people fleeing for their lives drown in boats crossing the channel, or get persecuted for just wanting a better life for their children. Especially when it comes to climate refugees, of which there are already thousands and will be millions. The UK is historically and currently responsible for this, and we need to help.
It feels like the Government is trying to dehumanise refugees by calling them illegal immigrants, and painting them as a burden and threat. Refugees rebuilt cities like Hamburg after the second world war, and have brought so much to this country already. They deserve a chance like anyone else.
I think that brings us about up to date. A few bullet points to round us off:
Still doing physio on my knee after falling off climbing wall in November, and awaiting operation to build new ligaments. Luckily I can still cycle and walking is fine
Planning a cycle tour for later this year – I fancy Cornwall
Also might be going to Scotland for a bit for some walking, will probably get lost
Don’t just think about how wrong things are sometimes, try and do something about it. There are tonnes of groups to get involved with, and Extinction Rebellion are taking to the streets in April on another effort change things
Anxiety and depression are a thing, friends are amazing. Keep on keeping on
Happy New Year, here’s to hopefully a less contagious 2022! Or at least less in the way of lockdowns and bad decisions by the powers that be. Maybe I should just stick with less contagious and hope for the best.
Gideon had a good Christmas despite me having to abandon him for a few days; he was well looked after by a friend whilst I escaped to my parents (thanks Adam). I don’t think he would have got on very well with my brother’s dog, given previous experience of him chasing canines around.
Now it’s getting colder he’s decided staying inside with blankets is probably for the best. I can’t say I blame him.
I had a good Christmas break down at my parents’ house in East Sussex, with my brother and sister-in-law’s family too. Great to be able to get together after last year’s shenanigans. Got out for some lovely walks on the beach down in Bexhill, and ate too much.
I’m generally not a big fan of Christmas. I really hate all the commercialism and pressure to buy stuff. It brings back memories of people no longer with us like Lucy. I can’t believe it’ll be 10 years since she passed away this February. Lots of happy memories of Christmas’ with her but that makes it harder when it comes round again somehow. Still, this was a good one and had lots of fun playing with my niece and nephew; just waiting for reports of what my niece has broken with the catapult I bought her. Naughty presents are what Uncles are for…right? I’m not playing Monopoly against my nephew again though, too many hotels on Mayfair for my liking, and I kept ending up in jail, which as an Extinction Rebellion person does not bode well.
In between Christmas and New Year I managed a few days of not doing very much, aside from more eating, and reading books, pretty good really. Did get out for a few nice walks including down to Salhouse Broad.
It’s really peaceful and regenerative down there at this time of year, without all the boats and bustle. Always seem to bump into someone I know as well – was good to see Nigel, an ex-colleague from work now with longer hair and living the dream playing in bands and whatnot.
I’ve got a bit of a broken knee at the moment due to falling off a climbing wall in November. Some ligaments that are quite important aren’t there anymore, and need to be rebuilt from bits of my hamstring later this year. Means I can’t climb or do Kendo, but can still walk about, albeit with one of those huge knee brace things. I can still cycle. Cycling is in fact encouraged as apparently I need (I was going to do a bad knee pun then but resisted) to have thighs like Chris Hoy’s before the operation. This could be challenging. As always I am thoroughly impressed with the NHS and how hard they work, and enjoyed the MRI scan. They weren’t very complimentary of the Government and how they’ve handled COVID, unsurprisingly.
Before going back to work I went for a walk round the Wensum Valley, to look at the proposed route for the Western Link Road. The road will destroy large swathes of beautiful and massively important Norfolk Countryside.
The Wensum Valley is a Special Area of Conservation with ancient woodland, rare chalk stream habitat, endangered barbastelle bat colonies and diverse flora and fauna. It would be a travesty if the link road went ahead.
Building the road will devastate rare habitat, plant and animal species, and increase traffic and emissions. We simply can’t afford to carry on with schemes like this whilst we’re in the middle of a climate and ecological emergency. It would be far better if the Council invested in a joined up green public transport plan, including cycling infrastructure, instead of opening up the countryside to more development and cutting 5 or 10 minutes off a journey. The Wensum Valley is the last natural corridor into Norwich, it needs to be saved.
I really do dream of the day when politicians start taking the climate and ecological emergency seriously. Maybe 2022 will be the year for it after last year’s disappointing COP26. Here’s the proposed route for the link road – if you’re Norfolk based please write to your MP and/or councillor to tell them to oppose it, and you can always join the Stop the Wensum Link campaign (or XR Norwich).
Whilst you’re at it please ask them to oppose the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which could stop you protesting about anything, and will send this country sliding further info authoritarianism. Have a look at the Netpol site for more info.
What else does 2022 have in store? More Extinction Rebellion stuff for me, it feels more important than ever to be out on the streets demanding change, for ourselves as well as the sake of future generations. With wildfires and floods raging round the planet, Antarctic ice melt getting really scary, emissions still going up and the Global South really suffering we need action now, not by 2050. I know this means big lifestyle changes, but surely that’s better than loads of people dying and society breaking down? Maybe see you out rebelling for life later this year – message me if you want to get involved.
I am also hoping for a bit of a gradual career change in 2022. I passed my level 4 Bushcraft course last year, which took two years due to COVID. I am really proud of the achievement and would love to teach stuff to others. Stay tuned for more on that soon. And I can’t recommend The Woodcraft School enough.
And I want to do more cycle touring again. Formulating plans for that too.
Have you watched ‘Don’t Look Up? And if so what did you think? I thought it was brilliant commentary on how politicians and the media don’t take the climate and eco crisis seriously, and how society reacts to it. This was reinforced by much of the media and critics slating it, cos they really don’t get it.
All the best for 2022, and Happy Birthday to Sheila and Susan who are both very young again imminently.