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.
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.