Monday 28 September 2009

Step Change for Climate

On a non-work Monday I usually spend my afternoon playing Xbox360 games or reading, or some other enjoyable but ultimately profitless way of passing time. Today I decided to focus on cleaning up my 'to be read pile' where I came across a whole pile of articles on the Environment. This is something I take very seriously - both at home where we recycle and do everything else we can and at work where I am a champion of environmental thinking and also a Chartered Environmentalist.

This afternoon I have been I have been looking into various campaigns for the Environment. Climate change is a huge issue - never so more than now as later this year the UN meets to decide on what follows Kyoto.

Go to this site and join their petition which is taking the form of a giant human clock with everyone contributing a second (a "tck"). You can upload a video, picture or use thirty characters of text.

Also there is the site This is another superb site - whose action day is 24th October. 350 chosen numerically as it is transcends language; 350 the number chosen as this is the aim for parts per thousand of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Last but not least there is Blog Action Day on the 15th October whose theme this year is climate change. All you need to do is blog on the topic on the chosen day.

Call back here on the 15th for my contribution!

All of the above are about raising awareness, you don't need to do any of these to take part. Switch out the lights next time you leave the room. Turn of your computer monitor when you walk away from your desk. Only boil enough water for the drink you are making. Do your laundry at thirty degrees. Turn off the tap whilst you clean your teeth. Install a flush saving device in your toilet cistern. Use canvas and re-usable bags when you next go shopping. Leave the car at home and walk or use public transport.

I used to think when I first heard the term that 'step change' was a gradual change in the way things are done - in fact it is the opposite. It is rather a quantum leap, or a paradigm shift. The thing is it is time to do away with the old ways and look for the new... environmental responsibility is now the responsibility of everyone!

Sunday 27 September 2009

Autumn is here

Gone are the flowers and blossoms, arrived are the seeds and berries. Summer is gone and Autumn has arrived.

Run to the Beat

This morning was Run to the Beat - the Half Marathon run around the streets of South London. My fears of noise pollution (based on last year) proved unfounded. The only sound I really heard was a helicopter overhead and the pounding of runners' feet as they passed. Thanks to the Council, anyway, who via the medium of Twitter provided me with an array of contact numbers for the day... more than the organisers ever did when I tried to contact them via their website.

The usual road closures are in place, familiar to those of the London Marathon. The Council and Organisers claim that all areas are still passable by car. For the main part of Charlton though that requires moving your car the night before to the other side of the stranded island where the race goes along the top and bottom and cuts of all streets to the world. As I was out this morning I saw several cars trying to get out the end of the streets - if it happens in the Marathon after twenty odd years it is going to happen in the Half Marathon in only the second year!

Saturday 26 September 2009

Pond Life

I often wonder just exactly how many fish live in our pond. I sometimes sit and watch them swim and try to take a census. The problem is, even when fish go slowly they are moving quite fast... even when they seem to be floating and sunbathing they are still moving. It makes it hard to count. This is complicated by the fact that the vast majority of the fish are brown. They are hard enough to see at the best of times unless the light hits the water just right - and apart from variations in size, they all look the same!

See what I mean! All kind of brown with no distinguishing features. Very hard to tell one from another. It is supposed to be quite hard to breed fish - but ours have managed OK. Although the population has been added to over the years I should think that around two thirds of the population were born and bred in the pond... maybe more if we account for the few that have been buried over the years and the proportion eaten by the heron back in the spring.

There is a very small number of actual gold fish in the pond... around half a dozen. Most of these have turned from brown to gold gradually losing their darker colours. These are easy to tell one from the other as the markings are very distinctive. On the left the one I call Spotty.


Don't know about you... I'm off for a swim

Olympics in Greenwich

Some time ago I signed a petition against the Olympics (the Equestrian part) and their impact on Greenwich Park. It isn't that I go to the park a lot (once or twice a year probably) but I like to know that it is there and that I could go. Enter via the top gate from Blackheath and walk down the beautiful tree lined avenue and you can almost imagine the Henry the Eighth and his court doing the same.

My concern is that irreparable damage might be done to the park in the name of a few weeks and the Olympics (which I never wanted in London in the first place). The Government response to the petition I find insufficient. They focus on the least important part (the space available for the events) and give some glib assurances about the most important part (the park itself).

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Saturday 19 September 2009

Street Theatre

After work yesterday I took a stroll along the South Bank and enjoyed some varied examples of street performance artists.

Charlie Chaplin was absolutely brilliant. He poured water in his ear and squirted it out his mouth... he played games with his battered bowler hat and generally interacted with the tourists.

The young man with the wok lids was actually playing the steel drums.

The photos doesn't show very well the really amazing giant bubbles this chap was blowing.

All change please

What is wrong with this picture? Look closely now! Have you worked it out yet? If I hadn't known what I was looking for it might have taken me a few moments.

The River Thames has been removed from TfL's tube map. Apparently in recent times it has become 'too crowded' and difficult to read. Not only was the Thames removed, but also the fare zones. Highly suspicious behaviour - after all the fare zones determine the cost of your ticket... who wouldn't want to know those!

Whilst we all know that the tube map isn't geographically accurate it does help to know roughly where you are in the City, and the Thames was very useful for helping with that.

There was an immediate (and predictable) outcry over the missing River. The free newspapers mobilised and Boris (fresh back from New York) demanded the reinstatement of the blue ribbon across the map.

All is right with the world, the Thames is back where it belongs. Mind you, it isn't that long ago that it would barely have mattered one way or the other as the tube (along with London's Black Cabs) rarely went South of the River!

Bird Brain

Due to work commitments I've built up a bit of a blog backlog! Please excuse the flurry of posts as I catch up with photos and news.

Last weekend I was highly amused by the antics of the big fat pigeon in our garden.

The pigeon notices the feeder just filled up with peanuts

It's a bit of a stretch but he can just about reach the bottom of the nuts.
He soon gets bored and wanders off to see what else is around (there is quite a lot of breadcrumbs, for example).

He takes a drink from the bird bath (quite a few in fact), and even considers taking a dip.
He decides to head  back to the nuts for another attempt.
He finally works out that there might be another angle to consider the problem from.
He climbs on top of the toad house.
Success, he has reached the nuts and has finally managed a decent 'beak-ful'. He hops off to pick up some of the bits that have dropped out.
And completely forgets all the progress he has made and starts the whole long learning experience all over again!
They don't call them bird brains for nothing!

A night of music and tunnels

A week last Friday I took a trip to the Proms. When I looked on the map it seemed that the Royal  Albert Hall was equidistant from South Kensington and Knightsbridge tube stations. I decided to walk from Knightsbridge... trust me, South Kensington is definitely closer! It was a fine evening though, and a gentle walk through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens was very pleasant.

Just opposite Royal Albert Hall is the imposing Albert Memorial; Queen Victoria's tribute to her beloved husband.

I went with a group of friends, and we had arranged to meet in the queue for the Arena. What I didn't know is that there are two queues for 'day tickets' and I joined the first queue I came across. Had I walked clockwise around the Royal Albert Hall I'd have joined a different queue!

We ended up in the Gallery... after climbing up a lot of stairs! I had to drape myself over the railings to recover. The concert was great though. We saw the Vienna Philharmonic playing 'Don Quixote' by Strauss and then after the interval a Brahms symphony (the 4th I think).

It was hard on the feet as there are no seats up in the Gallery but for a fiver I guess you can't complain. It also got quite warm being right at the  top and with the heat from all the lights. It was a relief when the shutters were taken off the windows in the interval and the cool evening air came rushing in.

Going home I didn't make the same mistake as my journey there and went back to South Kensington tube - famous for access to the museums and the long subway tunnel.

I had planned to take the Circle line to Westminster and pick up the Jubilee Line. The best laid plans... the Circle line was suspended and I had to take the Piccadilly line to Green Park - where there is an extremely long tunnel to walk through in order to get back to the Jubilee Line.

So from the 'Gods' at the Royal Albert Hall to the tunnels of London Underground!

Saturday 5 September 2009

Nature trail

The wildlife in SE7 has been flourishing of late.

The squirrels are pretty smart. The only thing we have found that they can't get food out of is the little perspex box which attaches to the window with sucker cups. We're not even trying any more, and this one is easy!
I think that this is one of the fox cubs, adolescent now. He certainly seems to be mostly legs! He circled the entire way around the fish pond thinking about taking a drink before giving up and helping himself from the bird bath instead.
I took this the other night round the back of our house. This is apparently two slugs reproducing. Because there aren't enough slugs in our garden already. Lucky we have mostly shrubs that they don't seem to attack... goodness knows what they are living on!
The absolute tenacity of this snail really impressed me. He is making his way up the wire of a discarded hanging basket. He's taking a break from 'following the yellow brick road' another popular route for snails is along our yellow garden hose.
This giant moth has been haunting our garden for some weeks recently. It is really rather sinister by night as all you can see is a pair of glowing eyes!
I'm wondering if this hairy caterpillar (one of several in the garden at the moment) is going to grow into one of those giant moths!
 Yet another bug for the collection, quite a large earwig. I'm renaming this corner of the garden bugworld.
A look at our wildlife isn't complete without the amphibians. Our beautiful frogs and toads. Above (from top) Big Fat Toad, King Frog, Rich's Little Pal with Gold Frog.