Spring has sprung

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About ten days ago the sheep returned to the field, around 50 pregnant ewes arrived and over the course of a week the lambs started to appear until by Friday I returned home in the evening to a constant sound of bleeting. We stood and watched them as, attempting to walk, they literally jumped off the ground as they found their feet.

To gambol = to run or jump about playfully

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Cabin Envy garden studio

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Photograph by Wai Ming Ng.

Fancy this at the bottom of your garden? this is a writers studio at the bottom of his London garden but don’t you just love it.

At night the interior light glows through the cedar wood slates that make up the front facade. By day it looks like this

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Photography by Wai Ming Ng.

Studio designed and built by Weston, Surman & Deane:

See more photos here

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Rebellious Sounds in Cornwall

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Photo by Theo Moye

I don’t often talk about my work on here unless it takes me away from the cliff and further into Cornwall which has happened on a couple of occasions. In 2013 a company called Dreadnought South West created a touring play Oxygen to mark the centenary of a suffrage march from Lands End in Cornwall to Hyde Park in London. Five years later they have created another play which coincides with the centenary of the first votes for women. Called The Cause, the play is an imagined meeting between Millicent Fawcett [leader of the non militant suffragists] and Emmeline Pankhurst [leader of the militant suffragettes]. What would you do for a cause, would you march peacefully or would you build a bomb? Even though this conversation is about events over a hundred years ago the resonances to today are palpable. A tour opens in Bodmin on 25/26th April via a new initiative called intoBodmin and through them we are performing at Callywith College. We will also be touring throughout the south west region including Penzance, St Austell, Bude, Plymouth and Exeter this spring and more dates in the autumn. All tour dates will be posted here and here.

Alongside The Cause is a mobile listening booth tour, which is part of Dreadnought’s other Heritage Lottery project called Rebellious Sounds.  Marking 100 years of women’s right to vote, the mobile listening booth [designed like a voting booth] tells stories of women’s activism in the South West and the next stop is Cornwall’s Regimental Museum in Bodmin.

The booth will be in the Old Recruiting Office at Cornwall’s Regimental Museum between Saturday, April 14 and Thursday, April 26 and is free to visit.

A selection of the stories can be heard here as a taster http://dreadnoughtsouthwest.org.uk/rebellious-sounds-archive/

More details about the tour and how it progresses can be found here https://ruthmitchelltheatremaker.com/about/

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Plastic pollution via Facebook

Its been a bad week for Facebook and like many others I have been contemplating how I use it. I realise that what I get from it the most at the moment are the posts from the pages I ‘like’ rather than individual friends. Currently there are many many posts, films and photos about plastic pollution, it seems the more we become aware of it the worse it is getting, or maybe our global awareness has become part of that growth. Today there was a update about coffee pods…

but if you really want to find out how to recycle them here’s a link 

Today is five years since Rame Peninsula Beach Care , a small community organisation started with their first beach clean. On Facebook they have itemised everything they have done since then and its quite something when they work out all they have achieved in five years. The Rame Peninsula is the area in Cornwall that takes in Kingsand, Cawsand and Whitsand Bay, where we live, so I wanted to share the post with you.

Check the page out https://www.facebook.com/RamePeninsulaBeachCare/

This is what they have done…

1) Beach cleans
We have removed a total of 2,516 sacks of marine litter over the course of 91 organised beach cleans, involving a total of 3,481 volunteer hours. To put this into a financial context, if this work – all done for free by our wonderful volunteers – had been charged at the minimum wage, this would work out at a cost of £27,256.

2) Marine litter surveys
Our survey site at Polhawn is one of 19 sites around the UK being used to track the evolution of marine debris over a three-year period, providing baseline data to help drive future policy on this issue.
So far we have conducted 10 out of the total 12 surveys, and have counted and categorised a total of 57,078 pieces of plastic from just a 100m stretch of beach! Of these, more than half the pieces (29,674) have been unrecognisable broken fragments of various sizes, 9,610 pieces of fishing-related debris and 6,695 pieces of various kinds of disposable consumer litter such as bottles, takeaway packaging, etc.
More unusual finds have included a WWII anti-aircraft fuse, a credit card with 1993 expiry date and many pieces of Lego from the famous 1997 container ship spill off Land’s End.

3) Marine wildlife stranding recordings and rescues
We rescued dozens of live guillemots and razorbills (and recorded scores more corpses) during the devastating PIB spill in April 2013, which killed over 4,000 seabirds in the worst marine life disaster in Cornwall since the Torrey Canyon.
Our volunteer recorders have also recorded scores of dead dolphins, porpoises and seals along our coastline, contributing crucial information about the threats facing marine mammals locally, which we hope can be used to help drive better policy to protect them. We have also helped to rescue several live seal pups, which went on to be rehabilitated and released, and helped with getting a number of specimens down to the University of Exeter for autopsy – including of course the world-famous giant bluefin tuna that washed up in Kingsand.

4) Bottle top chain

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We coordinated the creation of the great Cornish bottle top chain, working with other beach cleaners in Cornwall and further afield to collect 65,000 bottle tops from our beaches over just three months. The chain was mostly strung together by the incredible Dave Smethurst (RIP) into a chain that stretched 1.1km long and was launched one crazy day at Tregonhawke beach. The chain has since been an incredible tool in campaigning and public awareness-raising – used both by us and loaned out to many other organisations, as well as being viewed by Prince Charles and used at the European Parliament at Strasbourg to lobby MEPs deciding on the EU’s future plastics strategy.

5) Microplastics machine
Genius RPBC member Rob Arnold invented a microplastics separation machine that we’ve been able to use at Tregantle (one of the worst beaches in the south west for accumulating harmful microplastics – industrial pellets and pieces of plastics broken down to less than 5mm across). In general, microplastics are almost impossible to remove from the beach, but using Rob’s machine (and an awful lot of elbow grease with armies of volunteers brushing the beach) we’ve been able to remove around 10 million pellets (nurdles) and hundreds of thousands of microplastic fragments just from the small area at the entrance to the beach.

6) Plastic bottle boat
We have done lots of talks, beach cleans and workshops with local schools, but the most exciting initiative saw us working with local boatbuilder Andy Fox and the children from Fourlanesend school to build ‘Respect’, a boat made from hundreds of waste plastic bottles collected by the pupils, who then got to sail their creation around Cawsand Bay. The boat was later displayed for several months at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.

7) Artwork
Our amazingly talented local artists have used lots of the unrecyclable marine debris collected from our beaches to make some incredible, thought-provoking and awareness-raising pieces of art to help to reach a wider audience with the message about how plastics are affecting the oceans.
These artworks have been on display at venues such as the National Marine Aquarium, University of Exeter, the Telegraph Outdoor show in London, the Royal Geographical Society, Port Eliot Festival and the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. We held a marine plastic art show ‘All Washed Up’ in Kingsand in 2013 and are planning another one for the summer of 2018.
Fourteen local artists also used waste we’d collected to make trophies for 2016 Blue Marine Ocean Awards, held at an exclusive Mayfair club. The awards were presented to winners including Pharrell Williams, Selfridges and Oliver Letwin MP.

8) Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition
Rame Peninsula Beach Care is a founder member and co-coordinator of the Cornish Plastic Pollution Coalition, a network that now brings together over 40 conservation and beach cleaning groups and marine science experts representing the interests of tens of thousands of people in Cornwall and beyond to campaign together on a range of plastic-related issues.

9) Biobeads
Since discovering that more than 50% of the industrial pellets on our beaches appear to be biobeads (a special type of pellet used in some wastewater treatment plants to filter sewage), we produced a report on this issue (on behalf of the CPPC), which has been used to inform the wastewater industry and NGOs working on the issue of microplastic losses, the Environment Agency (who are investigating), and to put pressure on South West Water, which is now putting in place a range of measures to try to further investigate and mitigate this problem. The report has also been presented at the European Commission in Brussels to stakeholders working on developing the EU’s microplastics strategy.

10) Ocean Plastic conference
Back in 2014 we organised an Ocean Plastic Conference at the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth. This packed-out event brought together leading scientists, campaigners and industry representatives from Cornwall and beyond.

11) Austrian volunteers
We have hosted three groups of Austrian volunteers, for a month each time. Our visitors from this land-locked central European country have helped us with beach cleans, learned lessons about plastic pollution to take back home, and worked with artist Liz Franklin to make fantastic marine debris artworks such as the ‘Plenty more fish….?’ mural, which has now become quite a village landmark, displayed on the side of the Manse on Garrett Street.

12) Films
We have worked with local filmmaker Bryony Stokes to bring the message about ocean plastic to a much wider audience by making several short films about our work – including The Big Pick (charting a project with the University of Exeter in which we removed 576,664 pieces of plastic from just one small cove at Tregantle in one day – which we then spent three weeks counting and sorting) and most recently Leave it All Behind – a short ‘how-to’ film following us as we staged our mass plastic packaging unwrap at Morrisons in Liskeard to protest against unnecessary plastics.

I think what they have done is just amazing and I hope that their enthusiasm and passion for plastic pollution will spread beyond the county.

The images above are some of the plastics that Rob Arnolds Plastics machine has caught including the lego flippers from the 1997 container spill. His facebook page documents this machine [no5 above] and you can read more about it and see more separated plastics here 

 

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Daffodil Weekend

Cornwall is renowned for its daffodils and in the fields around Anthony the pickers are out in force. Historically the boundary between Cornwall and Devon had many varieties of the flower which used to be sent down to Covent Garden by train. This weekend it’s daffodil weekend at Cotehele House on the Cornwall border and as the daffodil is such a visual herald of Spring it’s a shame this weekend we have another bout of wintery weather arriving with snow forecast. But, not only do Cotehele have their daffodils shown in situ but they have also created an internal arch of daffodils using all their 250 varieties to hand. Here’s a picture of one of the gardeners doing final touches to last years archway.

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Credit Steven Haywood

 

The event is free, although normal entry fees to Cotehele apply. Open from 11-4pm this Saturday and Sunday

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Cabin Envy sauna

Look at this cabin masquerading as a sauna, it’s part of a boutique hotel in the Alto Adige in Northern Italy that has everything you could want for a spa break if you had limitless cash to spend.

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The entire hotel has amazing views from the bedrooms, restaurant, infinity pool, relaxation room and, of course, the sauna. From 224 -336 euros a night it may be just out of some people’s leagues but look at the photos on their website  or read about it here and then dream some. The area was apparently a location from the James Bond film ‘The Spy who Loved Me’ where Roger Moore is shot at whilst skiing down some impressive mountains.

“in this idyll on 1,230 meters above sea level – you will find a kingdom of peace. An oasis of natural beauty. A haven of relaxation. And all with the spectacular view over the Etsch Valley and the Vigiljoch”. Source

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Snow on the cliff

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Photo Melanie Davies

March 1st heralds the first day of spring and Cornwall is set for a blizzard in the form of Storm Emma later today, in fact the Met office have issued a red snow warning which is the one that says a risk to life… most peeps are staying put. The snow started yesterday and my neighbour took some fantastic shots of the field at the front. Because we access the chalet via a Cornish back lane the width of one car it is not deemed a ‘grittable’ road and we have to hope the farmers may come down with the tractors and help clear it.

The Cliff Top Cafe posted this photo below saying they had been watching a pod of dolphins swimming in the bay through a flurry of snowflakes, I can certainly think of worse things to be doing whilst stuck on the cliff.

Stay warm folks…

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Source Cliff Top Cafe Facebook page

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