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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

swords into ploughshares or birds not bombs

Sunday was a voluntary ranger patrol for the North York Moors National Park, I was on the coast north of Scarborough and although I could see the sea fret far out to sea, where it should always stay, on the cliff tops it was sunny, and, out of the breeze, hot. As I walked first south and then back north I was accompanied by the screams of the gulls and the more melodious song of the sky larks, heard but not seen. Near the sewage treatment plant, looking like a mixture of old and new farm buildings, there were masses of what I think were swallows and house martins. This is a fascinating section of coast, several places where the intrepid can descend to the shore and a curious flat series of rock formations along the beach, formed I believe by differential erosion of the different rocks.
not the best example of the
rocks, but the best I can do!

Then came the subject of the title, an old coast guard look out and its brick mine shelter (they would have had to move fast to get into it!) now converted into a look out for a local bird watching group to watch for migrating birds. How wonderful I thought, a relic not just of the 2nd world war but also of the cold war, now converted into a marvellous peace time use. What a pity that the monstrosity at Fylingdales can't be treated in the same way, or even all done away with.

from war time to peace time

the mine shelter on the left, the bird 'hide' on the right
For the last half hour of my patrol the sea fret blows in and out, first of all obliterating the view, then just as suddenly blowing back to sea again, a ghostly meteorological feature.

Coasties tomorrow, with the National Trust,, and then straight to see my grandsons, a flying visit, but soon one will be at pre-school so I must make the most of it whilst they are still both at home.

Talk in the national press of 'better off' pensioners losing or paying for their bus passes. Really I would rather pay more tax, the bus pass is not just a 'ticket to ride' but keeps cars off the road and for socially isolated pensioners can be a life line to company. However if all pensioners had a proper level of pension then we wouldn't need any perks at all.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

New ridiculous stuff on Tuesday and sunshine on Wednesday

Tuesday was Short Stop, organised by LASSN The details of my first guest left me almost speechless, I will not identify the referring agency for what will become obvious reasons. He has been refused asylum here and after much thought has taken up the Border Agency's offer of being sent back to his home country. Now you would think that this should and could happen quite quickly, after all I can book a plane ticket to almost any where at the click of my mouse. But no, it can take months and meanwhile this person is left in limbo, although I believe in the Biblical limbo one did not need food, drink or a roof over one's head. So he is dependent on charity; of course on some occasions people in this ridiculous situation turn to stealing for food, so then they go to prison, which is a very expensive way of dealing with people who just want to be put on a plane. I am sure someone will explain to me why there is this delay, but to most people it will seem insane. Anyway I find him a room for the night, and the two other referrals as well, with lovely residents of Leeds who take in a stranger.

Then Wednesday, on the Cleveland Way south of Scarborough. The luck of the Coasties holds again, when we start work at 10am there is still a thick sea fret, fifteen minutes later the fret has cleared, the sun is shining and we are taking off our fleeces and jumpers. The strong people are repairing steps, I am sent off to do a light prune. Now in the National Park offices a Coasties Cut means something, a big, big cutting back, sometimes in extreme circumstances over a metre of blackthorn, right down to the ground! But that is in the autumn and winter; no I must be aware of nesting birds. So I have a lovely time, wandering south along the footpath trimming here and there where the shrubs are intruding just too much onto the path, I can be more vicious and I am with the bramble. It is mostly hawthorn, it is in blossom and the strange, sour smell fills the air. After a while I reach the cliff edge, here it is gorse, also in flower, that I trim back. Down on the beach the tide is out and a few people are down there, taking advantage of the sudden warm weather.

Then I see a hovering bird of prey, at cliff level, the plumage is reddy brown, it is a kestrel, seen for me from an usual angle, usually they are high overhead. This one swoops onto the beach and then flies off.

The few walkers who pass tell me what  lovely job I have, I explain that I am a volunteer, which is why I can dawdle if I choose! I'm not sure that they all really understand, never mind it is too lovely a day to go into more explanations.
dawdling down to the sea

Two very different days this week, but all part of the rich pattern of my small society. 

Sunday, 20 May 2012

I'm back to a Fairtrade stall

Got back last night after a real variety of trains, a very old local Italian train, with opening windows, then the amazing 300kph Italian HS train, so steady I hardly realised I was moving. The French TGV, the Eurostar and finally my local and friendly Trans Pennine. Today straight back into a Fairtrade stall in a local church as part of our local Food Festival, we made some sales, but I fear that the visitors to this Food Festival have little interest in Fairtrade.Some seem to feel we are in competition with local suppliers; hardly, as I haven't seen much chocolate, coffee or tea being grown round here. Never mind, nationally sales of Fairtrade goods are well up on previous years. On the French TGV the mini choc bar with my coffee was Fairtrade.

I catch up on emails, particularly about new hosts for Short Stop which I am coordinating on Tuesday, after several Tuesdays away or not available, much seems to have changed in just a few weeks.

I also check up on where Coasties is to be on Wednesday; hooray it looks as though it will be on the Cleveland Way.

There is also to be a new system of posting blogs onto the North York Moors volunteers' section of the website, I hope others bloggers will post too, it would be nice to see other points of view.

Had a good chat with a colleague on the Fairtrade stall about the apparent demise of the 'Big Society', neither of us regret this as we agree that it was a throw back to Lady Bountiful, and that it is time that people realised that volunteers need the back up of full time and paid staff if our work is to be really useful.

More blogging on Thursday after a couple of busy days.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Back for a short while

Well I'm back for a bit. We decided a couple of years ago that summers are the best time to be at home, now all our holidays are packed around that. So, what with Granny duty, such a chore (not) and actually going away, I'm off again next week and will be back in time to do a stint on our Fair Trade stall at our local Food Festival, more on that at the end of this month. Walking in Italy this time, all the way there and back by train.

Friday it was off to Leeds after the dentist; to get an NHS one I have to travel nearly 20 miles, even taking the car though, which I did this time, it's still better, financially and in principle than going privately. My gadding friend is away, but my other friend is in a cheerful frame of mind, her latest assignment at college has gone well, she almost feels a maths test might be OK and she is looking after two lovely little girls, daughters of a friend from church. They greet me politely, but shyly, and settle down to play. We talk about this and that, just relaxed together. Not for the first time she tell me how pleased she is that LASSN introduced us, I assure her that the pleasure is a two way thing.

as good a way as forecasting
as any!
Today I was on a voluntary ranger patrol in Thornton le Dale, one of the bigger settlements actually within the National Park, I do a litter pick round the car park and then round the pond, very little litter and no dog mess, what a delight after a fortnight ago at Saltergate. Last time I was here my small grandson was chasing the ducks, today they can sit on the edge of the pond in peace. I then decide to check out the paths round the fields on the edge of the village, although they are in the valley these paths are still in the National Park. All is well, signs, gates and stiles in good order, a bit of cutting back round some stiles, but I come across some delightful signs. Before I show them to you, I would like to say that I have good friends and family with lovely dogs, all people who are incredibly responsible dog owners and to whom these would never apply.

some one has put this outside their house,
I know how they feel!
Normally I would hate the implied violence, but
the lambs are the farmer's livelihood and on the Moors ground nesting birds are part of a fragile biodiversity

apple blossom makes an unusual
 addition to this hedge

My day ends on a good note, steamed wild garlic with our meal, a couple of glasses of red wine and then we can toast the new French President. My small society can cope with austerity, I was brought up that way, but not the intolerable unfairness of the current way that that austerity is being imposed.
As I've said before my small society is for the extras, the Big Society stuff should be all our responsibilty through national and local fair taxation.