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Sunday, 26 January 2014

this time we lunch with a cormorant

Two weeks ago we lunched with the porpoises, this time it was just as sunny, but there was only a cormorant to keep us company. Rain had been forecast for the morning and there was a thick mist as I drove over the Moors, but once again the luck of the Coasties,, held and as we parked at Runswick Bay the sun came out. First we carried about fifty step boards and several packs of stubs (the short pieces of wood which hold the step board in place), up a muddy, slippery path for a job to be done in a few weeks time. We were out of the wind and I was soon shedding layers of clothes.

can you see the acorn, the
National Trail sign, pointing
up the beck?
the cormorant drying
its wings

Then we carried on along the beach to Hob Holes, where the Cleveland Way leaves the beach, along, or even in, the beck, up stone steps and then up the steps that needed cleaning and repairing. It was hard work, scraping off the grass, mud and shale to try to get the steps back to their original width and also to give the wooden step boards a chance to dry out. Some needed replacing, a job I always leave to others. We sat on the edge of the beach for lunch, watching the cormorant drying its wings, and all the dog walkers enjoying the winter sun. Not a bad way to spend a winter Wednesday we all agreed.

The previous day had been another Short Stop,, day, but once again no referrals. However the evening was very busy as we had a local Fairtrade group meeting to discuss our plans for Fairtrade Fortnight, As well as the usual run of stalls we also have a banana producer visiting and we are organising another of our Fairtrade and local craft fairs. So the usual discussion about tables, posters and stalls. We seem to sort it all out and various tasks allocated out between ourselves. if you are nearby it is Saturday March 1st at the Friends' Meeting House in Malton, from 10am to 4pm,‎

On Friday it was the annual Fairer World,, social. All the volunteers and local stall promoters meet in York; we bring food, Charlie and Moira lay on wine, soft drinks, tea and coffee and we have a chance to meet some of the other volunteers. A lovely evening and an opportunity to chat with people I usually just meet in passing.

Yesterday in Manchester I visited a wonderful museum,, the Peoples' History Museum, which gives the history of how the rights we now take for granted have had to be struggled for over the centuries. Yes there are still changes we need to continue to push for, but this reminded me of how much has been achieved by people working together.

Tomorrow I am off to Leeds to meet my now settled friend. I haven't seen her since Christmas so a good chance to catch up, share some food and meet some of her other friends too.


Monday, 13 January 2014

lunching with the porpoises

the Cleveland Way climbing
the hill in the January sun
Well OK, we were sitting on a high cliff at Cloughton and the porpoises (about four) were in the sea beneath us, but still it was a lovely Coasties lunch break. I know they weren't, but it really did look as though they were playing. It was the first Coasties of 2014 and we were doing a really big cut back of blackthorn along the sea ward side of the Cleveland Way. The weather for early January was perfect, sunny, not much wind and not too cold, by lunch time I had even taken off my thick fleece! A colleague and I had been asked to cut right through the hedge to open up a view of a headland as walkers climbed up the steps; "don't fall over," the Park Ranger asked us, we thought maybe we wouldn't.

the view and the barrier
Eventually we had cut through to the cliff edge and made the view asked for, but then it was decided that perhaps a barrier of some of the cut branches would avoid loosing walkers as they admired the view, so this is what it now looks like. If you read this and then walk this section, please do admire the view, it is lovely and it was hard work. I was too nervous to do the very edge bit, my colleague must have nerves of steel.

The previous day, in theory, was Short Stop,, but there were no referrals at all. This always worries me, is there really no one destitute, do they all have friends they can stay with? Several of the referring agencies have had to close some of their drop in facilities, making it harder for destitute asylum seekers to access their help.

Today the person who organises LASSN's befriending scheme rings me, she is wondering whether my friend would help someone in a similar position to her, who has just moved to the same area of Leeds. I say that I am sure she would be delighted, what a lovely idea to go from being supported to being a befriender.

Last Saturday another Voluntary Ranger and I continued cleaning up the board walk in the Forge Valley. If the gap between the boards is not kept clear for water to drain away they will rot, as some of the boards already have. We discuss how far apart they ought to be for this drainage to happen, a lot have been put in almost touching, our hoes do not stand a chance. I even try with a penknife, hopeless. Later I email one of the senior people at the National Park, these boards are very expensive, if they can't be properly maintained it is money wasted. He replies in some agreement and says he will check the standards that are being used, a small triumph for we amateurs? I hope so. After all if volunteers are being used for essential maintenance then it is only right that we can and will have an opinion as to the original construction.

Finally to Fairtrade; last week I gave a talk to a group in Pickering, Sight Support Ryedale, We had a good discussion, the question of fairness for UK farmers came up, I said I agreed, but that was for another pressure group and we could only do so much. I sold a lot of chocolate and snacks and came home feeling that at least a few farmers in developing countries had had their case heard and supported. As usual thanks to Fairer World,, for supplying the goods.

I am off on my travels tomorrow, to Bath to stay with an old friend, so once again My Small Society is taking a rest, good thing it doesn't run really essential services.