Have You Got The Bottle?

It’s plain to see throughout the media that we have become aware of how much damage plastics are doing to our environment. But what are we really doing about it?
Thanks to an up ward trend in health consciousness in the UK, and therefore the need to stay hydrated, we have created a bottled water industry in excess of £2.4 billion. With more than 20% of the UK drinking bottled water every day, that’s more than 7 billion single use plastic water bottles discarded every year. In 2017, bottled water outsold Coca Cola – we are talking here about water, not the new trend in flavoured Gin.

As part of his own crusade against single use plastics, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has tried to take on this multi billion pound industry by proving to the the general pubic – that’s you and me – that the UK’s drinking water from the household tap has the same and in some cases a better mineral content than the bottled water with a fancy label. Think about it for a moment, we are being asked to pay anything from £1 to £2 for a 500ml bottle of water, when we have, thanks to our local water authorities, a nigh on endless supply at the turn of a tap.

Then there’s that empty bottle, it takes about 400 years for it to decompose if it’s just discarded into the countryside – let’s face it, we’ve all seen these in hedgerows, floating on our rivers and canals, rolling down the street on a windy day.

Part of Hugh’s task has been to get petrol stations to provide a means to refill our bottles. Maybe if we all followed suit and requested this more often when we are out then it could become the norm. I don’t for one minute think that we are going to stop the sales of plastic wrapped water overnight. Nor do I think that it has to be banished completely, I’m sure there will always be circumstances where plastic bottles will be the only option to supply us with water (although I can’t think of any off hand).

There is a far bigger picture here than just single use plastic water bottles, in a world that is producing plastic faster than we can recycle it, it’s gradually entering our food chain in the form of microplastic particles directly affecting our health. This we will cover at a later date, for now however, we should narrow the focus down to our own individual usage. We could start by acquiring a suitable reusable drinking vessel and start taking advantage of sites like this https://refill.org.uk/ where businesses are already signing up to put their ‘Tap on the Map’.
Another company https://www.hydrachill.com/ is trying to supply machines to gyms etcetera, that dispense a reusable bottle that you pay for and then fill it with water. But there’s no getting away from the fact that while we as the consumers buy our water in plastic bottles, there will always be someone there willing to part us from our cash to sell us something we already have.acquiringThere is a far bigger picture here than just single use plastic water bottles, in a world that is producing plastic faster than we can recycle it, it’s gradually entering our food chain in the form of microplastic particles directly affecting our health. This we will cover at a later date, for now however, we should narrow the focus down to our own individual usage. We could start by purchasing a suitable reusable drinking vessel and start taking advantage of sites like this https://refill.org.uk/ where businesses are already signing up to put their ‘Tap on the Map’.
Another company https://www.hydrachill.com/ is trying to supply machines to gyms etcetera, that dispense a reusable bottle that you pay for and then fill it with water. But there’s no getting away from the fact that while we as the consumers buy our water in plastic bottles, there will always be someone there willing to part us from our cash to sell us something we already have.

A Wonderful Wollaton Walk

As hundreds of walkers gathered in the grounds of Wollaton Hall, there was a definite upbeat feel. We were all there for one cause, to help raise money for the Prostate Cancer UK.
Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in men, with over 47,000 men diagnosed in the UK every year. Every 45 minutes a man dies from prostate cancer, that’s more than 11,000 men every year. With 1 in 8 men likely to be diagnosed in their lifetime, there’s an urgent need to raise awareness of this form of cancer.
As we assemble, many are going through the ancient ritual of applying the war paint before a great battle, albeit under the guise of T-Shirts, caps, ban-banners, wristbands and the like, all adorned with PCUK logos. The compere starts the motivation with the count down to the off. Introducing one of the Directors to PCUK, who gives thanks for all those taking part in the day’s events. – More rousing words of encouragement.

More of a sombre moment as one of the fallen takes the stage to really remind us why we are there. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and immediately started his treatment to fight the disease. As is sometimes forgotten, the problem is a big part of the close family and love ones around them. Too many times we all fail to see the help and guidance that is given when we are at our lowest. This man stood in front of hundreds, told of how he was given the all clear after an operation, knowing that he will always have the nagging doubt of the cancers’ return. Knowing that his sons’ odds of risk had been increased. Knowing that he owed an immense debt of gratitude to his partner who helped him through. – And that’s why we are here – to help in anyway we can.

More motivation, this time physical with the ladies from a local fitness center as they took us through some warm up exercises, – the clock was ticking. Time for us to split into our different distance groups. A quick count down and we were off. We ascended towards the Hall with more of an amble than a walk, but the shuffling crowd turned into a line as people found their stride. Twice around the Halls grounds was the objective, but with the day rapidly warming up, this felt like a long way off. The first lap felt slow, people coming from all directions from their various routes, but this gave us plenty of time to take in the wonderful grounds and some of their inhabitants.

Now remember it wasn’t a race! But…you can’t help seeing the 9 people in front of you as a challenge. Two were running, there may have been more, but I had my sights set on the walkers. 2nd lap, I’d got my pace, taken on some water, time to push. The first couple were easy, they slowed on the hill, rookies mistake. Next was the elderly couple I’d been watching from the start. They kept an incredible pace, my self-esteem was knocked further once I’d caught up with them. I praised them on their efforts only to be told that they normally run greater distances. Refocused I pursued my next quarry, a woman that had surged pass me half way around the first lap. No time to stop and talk with this one. Revenge – albeit not severed cold on this hot sweaty day in June. Onward. I was soon in the wake of a well seasoned couple. Once again I joined them for idle chatter. As they told me of their previous year’s endeavours, by keeping their pace at 4mph and that there was only the slow incline to the finish they were well in on their previous years record… not good enough for me… I was off again. The finish was in sight. As I pushed on down the hill to the inflated Finish Arch there was cheering, even though many had been through before me I still felt a winner.
I will now have to spend two weeks in intensive care with exhaustion and dehydration – worth it!
That said…. I wish to thank everyone that has donated towards Prostate Cancer UK. – AND GENTS, KEEP ON CHECKING.



Take a Walk…..

I think for many people now days, the “C” word has become a word that haunts us, and yes I’m going to talk about cancer. Whether we have someone close to us that has had their lives devastated by this unforgiving disease, or they are going through their own physical and mental battle, we are all fully aware of the suffering that this single 6 letter word can bring. I often hear the expression that someone was “lucky” in that their particular form of cancer has abated or even been cured. But how are they lucky?, surely “lucky” is not to have contracted cancer in the first place.
We almost take for granted the hundreds of people who have dedicated their lives in search of remedies for this, the evil ruler of despair and destruction. It’s these people I wish to briefly talk about today. I’m not going to bang on about what a marvelous job they do, we know they do a marvelous job. I want to talk about how we can help them.
One of the biggest steps we can take, is to take note of our own bodies. Both men and women should take a moment for a self-examination check. If your not too sure what or how to do this, contact your local doctor for full advise. You can find plenty of information online at the NHS websites. Remember, that catching symptoms early is a massive aid to a full recovery.
For me, I had been suffering from a low back ache and finally went to the doctor for some advice. I found myself sitting there completely fear stricken when I was told that I needed a full prostate exam. The “C” word wasn’t even mentioned, but for any man to hear “prostate” and “exam” in the same sentence will only conjure up the same conclusion – the doctor suspects cancer. “Luckily” my prostate was given a status of “normal”. My mind, however is now highly conscious of this threat.
I found myself giving a small donation towards the Prostate Cancer UK. This is another way we can all help. Since then I have been spurred on by watching “The New Full Monty” that I wanted to do a little more, so….
I had a decision to make, to find somewhere to take part in a “Full Monty”, or, go for a sponsored walk. I thought the walk would be easier on your eyes.

Maybe it’s time for your help…. Why not sponsor me, or give a donation, or maybe, take a walk yourself.

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Welcome to UK-Shanty

There’s something quite depressing about driving through what’s left of Britain’s green an pleasant countryside in recent years. Villages that I used to visit or travel through on the way somewhere, have suddenly sprouted ugly new housing estates on their extremities. UkShantyAccording to the Housing Charity Shelter and other governing bodies, we are in the middle of a “Housing Crisis”. Apparently, another three million new homes must be built in England over the next 20 years to try to combat it.

I have had the misfortune of being involved in the thick of this argument of an “Housing Crisis”. Recently a local farmer, like many others, discovered it would be more lucrative to sell some land than to farm it. Within a blink of an eye, plans had been made to put 200 houses on the land. The bad news quickly spread and a local residents group was formed in protest against the build. Meetings were held and with little and no help from the local parish council, most of whom didn’t even live in the village, we expressed our views in the one-sided debate and managed to prove that the local infrastructure could not facilitate these houses. What with the already overstretched road network and the old sewage pipes, a major rethink was required. But while this was going on, another builder managed to sneak into the next field and build his houses on the perimeter, pushing the border a further quarter mile out. As always, too much money changing hands and not enough voices opposing.
Going back to my opening statement about how depressing it is, to add more fuel to my fire of despair, I recently travelled through one village in which I used to live, and l was shocked. It had been extended by a mile with the addition of two large housing estates. It was originally 3 miles to the next village, now it’s only 2.
It doesn’t end there, in the middle of our village there was a large house with lovely grounds, owned by a family that had been in the village for decades. The house was used as the centre point for fetes and other local events. We could wander around the gardens showing all their splendour in mid-summer. Unfortunately, the owners passed away and the house was sold…..Bulldozers came in and it’s all gone… replaced by half a dozen eye sores crammed in a cul de sac where no-one now ventures.
Another village I know had an office complex forced upon to it. The project was finished well over 5 years ago and there are still signs saying office space for let. Why were they built if they were not required?
It’s so disappointing when there’s still plenty of houses that can be renovated, large houses that could be made into flats that people could afford. Old factories that can be brought up to date and reused.

We were very fortunate a few years back to move into a relatively small village on the outskirts of Leicestershire. 20 years on with the village growing too fast and has become too busy, we are now thinking of moving to a nice quiet small village on the outskirts of…… ? Any ideas anyone? Where is safe from the expanding brick mutant? What are we doing? None of this can be undone, the beautiful green fields, trees and hedgerows – GONE! It’s time for us to stop the madness. Time for us to shout about it. I have a big soapbox to stand on.. join me.

Ghostbusters 2016: Review

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I can fully understand why people want to try to continue with a franchise. But when the original had Bill Murry, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis, anything that followed has some mighty big shoes to fill. So, where did they go with this latest rendition? Pick up where the boys left off, – nope. Give us a new thread into the supernatural, with the so acclaimed “funniest actors working today” Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. Allowing us to be enveloped into a new era of comedic ghost busting, – nope. Did they make no effort at all with the storyline, stick four wannabees together in the hope that those who didn’t see the original will welcome this with open arms… – yes, yes they did.

I find myself asking this more and more when it comes to “remakes” – WHY? This film brings nothing to the table. If there were any good lines to be delivered, they were sadly lost by the total lack of timing, an absolute must if you’re trying to be funny.
Even the cameos by some of the original cast couldn’t bring this 105 minutes to an end quick enough for me.

1 Stars

Nights Under Polyester

Tent

From as early as I can remember I have always gone camping. 

My wife and I have travelled the length and breath of Britain to many a different campsite. From the most basic, a field in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely no amenities, to the grandiose village style campsite will everything at hand including showers, shops and even a clubhouse. We have camped in all weathers, from the rare but glorious British sunshine to depths of snow covered ground. We have gone through many changes in tent design. The humble beginnings with the most basic of ridge tent, progressing to a multi bed-roomed full fame once the family started to grow with the arrival of our children. Finding our way back down to the more simple “Pop Up” format of today’s lightweight, flimsy polyester, with the ground sheet, flysheet, pockets and even windows with curtains all sown-in. Over the years we have also accumulated various acquisitions to our camping kit, upgrading sleeping bags, stoves, lighting, tables, chairs, inflatable beds, pots, pans, heating units, windbreaks, washing lines, even wine glass holders. A top box for the car was purchased to aid the carrying of all this kit. And to think we use to go with whatever we could carry on my motorbike.
Then, three years ago this all changed for me. I damaged my knee that made it difficult to walk let alone any bending needed to occupy a tent. So we have still been traveling over the length and breath of Britain, but using Bed & Breakfasts or hotels. Until last weekend, when my wife was insistent that we rekindle our “over canvas” away breaks (I was quick to point out that it is no longer canvas, but…). Anyway, knee problems had all been resolved, so the car was packed with the basics, plus the dog and off we went.
Forecast looked good and it was a lovely sunny day as we pitched the tent. Friends and family all gathered to the same location and so we commandeered a large area of the well furbished site that overlooked the coastline.
All was fine. With the days events over, we all reassembled for food and drink. The late afternoon slid into evening as we all sat and talked, drinks in hand, planning the next day’s agenda.
As the sun set the air changed. Bringing a cold blast to the proceedings. I found my self starting to shiver. The Polo top was no longer enough for warmth. I quietly donned a sweater, then my rain mack in an attempt to ward off the chill. With my legs aching for the cold, I retired for the evening, wondering why I was the only one effected by the change in temperature. I was beginning to regret the return to camping.
After constantly waking up cold throughout the night, dawn finally came. I reluctantly wriggled from my cocoon of sleeping bag and added blankets and made my way up to the shower block for that early morning pee.
The day break felt calm compared to the night before. The chill factor had gone. As I peered over towards the sea, I realized what it was I used to love about camping…..

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100 Strangers #4 – Simon

Simon-HSP-4This is Simon, the second of the two bikers from the RNLI weekend at Staithes. Simon thought he was just going to observe his mate’s Jeff photo shot, but as he stood proudly behind his bike I turned the lens towards him. Another addition to my 100 strangers.

Today’s lesson: Always try to take advantage of any onlookers.

This picture is #4 in my 100 Strangers Project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/

100 Strangers #3 – Jeff

RNLI-Aug2017-96Sometimes things just happen. Meet Jeff. Jeff is a proud biker, he along with his mate, had gone to the RNLI weekend at Staithes. Whilst Jeff posed for photo with his bike overlooking the sea wall, I saw the opportunity, so I took my moment to add Jeff to my 100 strangers. After taking one of them both on their smartphone, there was brief introductions, then we said a farewells, and they rode off (I’d like to say into the sunset, but it was the wrong direction and the cobbled road didn’t make it smooth.

Today’s lesson: Always keep a camera at the ready, as you never know when the next opportunity will present itself.

This picture is #3 in my 100 Strangers Project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at the http://www.flickr.com/groups/100strangers/