23 June 2016


I had an erotic dream about Chris Packham the other night. You know it's Springwatch time when you dream of Chris Packham. Not that in my waking hours I particularly yearn for the man. To be honest I'm probably past such things.

I am currently reading his autobiography, so I think what happened was my dreaming mind simply worked its chthonic evil on the nearest male who came to mind. Thank goodness I'm not reading anything by Jeremy Clarkson.

10 June 2016

Insect Sex

(I wonder what kind of spam that title will attract)

I have two tales of insect sex, or shall we more poetically call it insect romance, one rather comical, one surprisingly lyrical.

2 May 2016

What It's Really All About

Last Sunday I set the alarm for 4.15 am. When it went off I can't say I jumped out of bed with any great enthusiasm. In fact I turned over and firmly drew the duvet over my ears, but then I realised it was now or never, this moment only comes once a year, so I had to get up.

The First of May was International Dawn Chorus Day, when you go out at dawn and listen to the wonder of all the little birds singing their hearts out. I've taken part twice before in 2012 here and 2013 here. The first time I ventured only as far as Garden65, the second, across the road to Fog Lane Park. This time, given the new relationship with Fletcher Moss Park, I chose to mark the event by walking dazedly around a less ordered landscape.

29 April 2016

New Instagram Adventure

fletchermoss-friends instagram page

Apologies for the radio silence. The reasons are legion, most too mundane to mention. One of my more noble excuses for the lack of blogging is that I've been expending my creative juices on a new social media project: an Instagram account for the Friends group of a local park, Fletcher Moss.

Admittedly having an Instagram feed was not at the top of the To Do list of the Friends of Fletcher Moss group. Raising funds and attracting more volunteers are probably more important aims. I'm not too sure what initially gave me the courage to suggest they have one, and I think the reason they said yes was because they could safely let me shuffle away to do it without needing any further instruction. Now I've got to feed the thing on a daily basis I'm wondering what kind of monster I've created.

28 February 2016

The Anatomy of Caterpillars

Moth Caterpillar. Possibly Angle Shade

If Insects Were People

As promised this week's post has a more scientific vibe than of late.

I came nose to nose with this caterpillar the other day. I know we have to love all god's creatures, but I found this guy rather unnerving. He's too green, too juicy, too ... erm ... priapic, shall we say.  Quite a challenge for an old maid like me.

21 February 2016

Natural Dyeing With Concrete

Manmade objects used in Natural Dye Project

A Natural Dye Project Using Materials From Derelict Land

The online Environmental Humanities MOOC I have been doing has sadly finished. I still can't define exactly what Environmental Humanities is. It might have something to do with thinking about what could be done to improve the environment. It definitely didn't tackle the practical side to the problem. Maybe the one thing I did gain was an appreciation of how entangled Nature and Humanity are. There is no longer any 'out there', and probably never was.

Part of the course was to do an art project about an environmental concern we have. Actually we were supposed to make a Creative Intervention. That sounded too assertively ambitious for me, so I decided to stick to what I know: some natural dyeing.

14 February 2016

Bird Brick Houses

A bit of light relief this week. And a good news story.  A rarity for both this blog and any report about the state of nature. This one is lovely. You will sing hallelujah and punch the air with delight when you hear it.

A small building firm has designed a simple and stylish way to provide bird boxes built directly into a building, not just nailed precariously onto the outside.

7 February 2016

Two Films : One Problem

Before we plunge into this week’s cri de coeur I would like to apologise for the recent emphasis on philosophical matters. I too miss happy little posts on courageous bees or curious cats or unexpected butterflies, but we must bide out time until spring and her more charming subjects appear. Consider these winter posts as fireside stories told to pass the time while winter rains itself outside.

This week we are going to pick over a couple of films recently released by climate change charities.

31 January 2016

Nature - Culture Binary


I'm doing an online course on the Environmental Humanities.

Not that after three weeks of the course I could tell you what the Environmental Humanities are. I was expecting poems and site specific art installations. Instead there are 30 page pdfs by French philosophers, and videos of professors casually sitting in a student union bar discussing the 'liveliness' of water. To be fair there was one earnest young artist making nests for mice out of recycled wool jumpers, but we'll ignore him and his youthful naivety.

Overall it has been an eye-opening course that I have really enjoyed (my idea of heaven is 30 page pdfs by French philosophers). As I understand it the focus of the Environmental Humanities is to make people aware of the assumptions they hold about nature and where they place themselves within their ideas of nature.

25 January 2016

Which Nature?

When my mum introduces me to a new friend she has the problem of not having a label to easily explain me by.  I am not ‘a ...’ There is no job title to categorise me by, and the socially acceptable role of ‘looking after children’ is now not true. She sometimes overcomes the difficulty by declaring I write a blog. With this come signals of techno-mastery and holding an opinion about something. That’s loosely true. With this deft move she transfers the problem of classification to me. What is my blog about? “Nature in the urban environment” I self-importantly declare.

Generally this is all the information the friend requires to safely put me in one of the pigeon holes of her world view. No one comes back with the question, “What do you mean by ‘Nature’?” Which is fortunate because I’m not entirely sure myself.

17 January 2016

Too Early For Some

My street showing the favourite perch of our resident blackbird

I thought I had finished with the school run. Both children have fledged the nest. However, the eldest hasn't quite developed her flight feathers, so I drive her to work in the morning. The school run has become the work run.

It is not too much of a bother. At least I have the satisfaction of being useful to someone. The other bonus is being outside as the sun rises. I had forgotten, or maybe hadn't fully acknowledged, that the Dawn Chorus also happens in the winter. While I'm de-frosting the car, and the eldest is applying her make-up in the front seat, blackbirds and robins are shouting their little hearts out. It's a magical start to the day. Well, I think so, the eldest disagrees.

Let's give some thought to this. Why are the birds singing in the cold, when presumably food sources are still scarce, and the joys of spring are yet a couple of months away?

9 January 2016

Lichens Teach A Life Lesson

Happy New Year! May the coming year bring you sunshine and a warm wind.

[Sorry about the big paragraphs in this post. It's just how it turned out]

Between Christmas and New Year this year we made a quick visit to the Lake District, staying in the Three Shires Inn in Little Langdale. We have been there a few times because it has an open fire, serves a superb apple crumble, and is ideal for the amateur hiker because you can start walking as soon as you leave the front door. Minutes after polishing off a Full English you can be slogging your way up the fells, without a building or car in sight.