Global Warming???

“Global Warming is not real, it is a fantasy made up by people who are just scaremogerers!

The last few weeks it has rained a huge amount in the Noth of England, specifically the Lake District. It’s easy being sceptical and dismissing the simple facts:- melting of the pole ice, the rising average temperature, the problems with pollution and air quality – the list goes on. However, it’s OK being like the osterich and hiding your head, but all that does is delay the innevitable. Reducing the amount of fossil fuel we burn will obviously help immensley, but unless we all decide to help, we will remain compromised.

My comments are totally personal, I am voicing my own opinion, but I’m seeing things differently this year. We watched the rain fall on Cumbria a few years ago. The results then were bad, a policemen lost his life while managing traffic on a bridge that was destroyed by the power of the water raging down the River Derwent into Workington.

More bridges were washed away this time too, old “classic” ones like Pooley Bridge in Ulswater. The new flood defences, built to repel high water for the next floods, (some claimed it was expected to do so for a hundred years!) were easily breached and communities flooded badly. Peoples lives were hugely disrupted, even shattered in some cases.

The press, who always love a disaster, have fed heavily on this. They seem to exist for these things and lots of channel reporters have been visiting places that, up until the water came, they didn’t even know existed. It’s sometimes amusing to hear them attempt to pronounce the names of the places they visit. They move from tragedy to tragedy, seeming to hope they uncover ever more desperate situations.

The recent piece in the Washington Post talks through the NASA recording of El Niño in 1997/8 and in 2015. The differences in the weather severity is very marked. See the link below, and check out the models.

Maybe we should get more serious about these things and start to consider that the skeptics have got it wrong, and we need to help the people who are promoting change for the better.


October News – sport and music

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks, the rugby world cup, the football (soccer to our US friends) qualifications for the European Championships, music “happenings” and our lad having a go at getting up the grades in his hockey. We made some domestic decisions (mainly about the VW), and I bought a new lawnmower.

The lawnmower was a great deal from the Market Drayton mower centre. It was listed at £269, but had been damaged I transit to the shop – a small scratch on the blade cover. My card almost melted with the speed I passed it across the counter when the guy said £179! Honda engined Mountfield machine. Plenty of power, economical and does a wonderful job of our little patch of grass. Ah, almost retirement time – I’m waxing lyrical about garden equipment!

The rugby has been especially interesting for me, although work commitments have meant I have seen few of the games so far other than the important ones. I missed much of the Japanese beating the RSA, but enjoyed the stuff I saw. The huge commitment of all those guys was so inspiring. I played rugby for many years, and for five different clubs. I took the no-compromise style of the Cumbrian merit table with me throughout, and always tackled at full pace, but few of the players in those days were anywhere near the size of some of the RSA players!

It was sad to see England out so early. Let’s just hope the results of this sees some proper changes in the RFU and someone has the balls to change the base structure. We have more players in the game in England than virtually any other country in the world, so so why should we struggle for players (or managers for that matter)?! I think it will be difficult for a home nation to take the cup this time. If any of them will, then it must be Ireland I suppose, although Wales have a chance if they can get enough players to cover for the damaged ones who have gone down. Scotland have had one good game, and look too weak yet to take anything to the party from here. They deserve praise for getting further than England though.

I lay in the bath last week and listened to the Northern Ireland soccer team take Greece apart. What a wonderful story, almost a “Roy of the Rovers” style thing. Then Wales go and pull off the double, with Ireland beating the world champions to put the final nail into Scotland’s coffin.

Having just spent six weeks working in Belfast, I found huge pleasure in NI getting to France in such a style. I only wish I could have been there for the party!

Speaking of parties, it’s been an amazing week for music. The Hardy Boys rereleased their single “A Wonderful Lie” on vinyl. I’d ask them all to sign it, but it’d probably cost a fortune to send it round to them – now spread in Canada, England and Scotland!

White Baer released their new EP in Septemeber and were nominated for the “Best Newcomer” award at the Sc ottish Alternative Music Awards. Unfortunately, they were not successful in the award stakes, but the EP is excellent!

To cap it all off, Baba Jack released their new live album (it’s in the dukebox!) last weekend too. They did this with a wonderful bash at the Malvern Cube and were supported by The New Forbidden. For those who have not heard of this troupe of ‘TSH’ (twanging, singing and hitting), they are for me, a bit of an oddity. Too posh to be punk, to corny to be The Smiths, and not quite tight enough (yet?) to be amazing. Still, with Lloyd Grossman on lead guitar, I suppose they have some marketing angles that could be a ‘recepie’ for the future.

Baba Jack were just magnificent. Lesley travelled with me to the gig. All the wonderful sounds from all five of the extended lineup were on form. Julia gave it some big moves on the cello, Adam was (as ever) solid on bass, Tosh hits those skins so hard I swear they’re made of metal! Trevor was amazing – how anyone can play two instruments so well at the same time just amazes me, and Becky was truly magnificent! A small distraction for us was the (incredibly) drunk couple near the back who freely cussed and shouted during the gig, until at last they wandered away. How that guy managed to actually stay up on his feet was a mystery!

So, all that and junior telling us he’d had his first experience with ‘ore than one beer’ was tempered by the fact he was drinking Fosters lager, which doesn’t really count……..

On Halloween (31st October) we wil have ‘The Formula’ from Stone playing at Forton Cricket Club. Dave Williams, who plays lead guitar for them, is a good friend of my mate Ed Conway, and he plays a mean lead. The music is (in Dave’s words) “from Snow Patrol to Rock’n’roll via Huey Lewis, Duran Duran, The Beatles and The Stones plus the funkiest funk!” – could be a good night!

To round all this off, it has been a month of highs and lows with Junior. Adam started his A-level studies at Shrewsbury Sixth Form College after just missing his target grade on a couple of GCSE courses. That said – he’s miles ahead of my school qualifications already! Our rapidly growing bean-pole appears to be enjoying his start at SSFC, although he complains (as I did) that education is boring! He is incredibly fir, which fits well with his PE studies, and his hockey.

I am incredibly proud of both my children, although Adam has the edge on sport, Gina got lots of other qualities. Adam has a magnificent presence now on the hockey pitch. He has speed and skills, but needs a bit more time to get that polish to give him the full set. Currently he plays for Telford & Wrekin Men’s First X1, Shropshire U17 and  Birmingham Region U17 teams. Watching him play the first league match in Coventry last week made me feel he’s almost there. Unfortunately, after the recent JRPC finals, Adam found he had not progressed to HiPac. His disappointment was very understandable. He has worked all year to fulfil one ambition – to push for a place in the England squad. Sometimes we can’t have what we want, sometimes we can. IT could be that he makes the grade he so strives for, but it’s going to take a wee while, and some more effort.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ll find some more inspiration next weekend when I go ‘home’ to the farm. I promised a friend I would show them where I come from. So we’re going for a walk – I hope the weather holds…..

Freddy Fox and Peter Rabbit

I’ve been watching with interest lately at one or two of my contacts on ‘FaceAche’ getting more and more aggressive about one thing or another. Some are pi$$ed off about politics and the more ‘leftwing’ are having a right royal punt at the Tories. One or two are right of the middle and are flinging it back. Now, this doesn’t cause me any pain whatsoever, but I never fail to be impressed at the energy they put into this. The verbal dexterity of those who wish to do some real damage to people they’ve never even met before is amazing! The labour boys have a real good go at the boys in blue, and the others watch on trying to stir up chaos between the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ (although nobody seems to know who is where any more!). It’s a shame they can’t put all that energy into running the country and fixing the shit we’re all wallowing in right now!

Some of my contacts are fiercely opposed to any of what they class as “animal cruelty”. This can be anything from shouting at a budgie to cutting up a dog for dinner. There are many extremes in the business of animal cruelty. We are very lucky in this country that we have such liberal and tolerant attitudes towards people who come to join us on our little island. But it was interesting to see what happened when a guy near Richmond in Surrey cut a sheep’s throat in the street outside his house in a religious ceremony to worship the sheep and thank it for being the dinner for his family! Wow – you should have seen the “green-wave” that shot across the country trying to hang this guy for making the sheep suffer! BTW: I do not condone that type of slaughtering of animals, but his culture did (and does in his country).

Now, as a farmers son, I grew up seeing some pretty gory things. Especially where the the butchering of animals for the table was concerned. I’m not saying that I condone cruelty, I have had many pets. I had the awful experience of my mum feeding my pet rabbit to the family once. Currently we have a beautiful three and a half year old Labradoodle bitch called Pippin, and love her to bits! But some people seem not to realise when they are stepping to the same extremes as the people they “hate”. The vitriol and aggression is impressive, but why do they insist on loading violent images on the screens? The other thing that comes out of these people is the death threats and nasty hopes and wishes – they would be happy to see someone ripped to pieces if they supported fox hunting – ‘Der!’ I sometimes wonder if some of my friends are becoming “extremists”!! I do wonder if the next world war will be fought for freedom of goats and hamsters and the rights of cocker spaniels to have their own religion!

I sit (not quietly) on the fence with much of this by either ignoring it or just making bland non-committal comment. I do wonder if the “standard townie” sees fox hunting as all big horses and toffs drinking sherry and riding around the countryside chasing the dogs that chase the fox. They see a “defenceless” animal ripped apart at the seams like an old teddy bear, but with lots more blood and guts than sawdust inside!

Few people from the town see the mess left by the fox at lambing time. They don’t see it killing because it can. They don’t recognise that the fox has no natural predator here in the UK since wolves were killed off. Many argue that the people who hunt the fox are just blood thirsty morons who have no care for the wildlife and the countryside.

Well, in some cases all their way of understanding could be right, but then it’s like anything else in life – there is “fair” and there is “unfair”. The “posh lot on horses” race around “pissed in charge of a charger”, while damaging crops and causing road accidents while achieving very little in terms of actually catching any foxes. In fact, many think that it’s great just to ride around all day and not even catch one! Where I come from in the English Lake District, the hunt is done on foot. They get called by farmers to come to their aid, especially during lambing time. There are hundreds of foxes in the Lake District, many have quite a taste for Lakeland lamb or chicken.

My dad farmed in the south west corner of the Lakeland National Park for over thirty years. We had about 49 acres of enclosed land in total, which included about ten acres of fell pasture – not really good land for much other than grazing, and many acres of open fell for our sheep to graze. Much of the lowland ground was very rocky, and other than working it hard to get a crop of hay, it was little better. Dad ‘ran’ around 300 sheep in total, with varying numbers of cattle – from one Jersey house cow (milk for the B&B visitors and us) to about 30 beef cattle when it was good to have such. We did have dairy for a while in the sixties, but the government put paid to any profit in that.

We (very much) lived off the land. Dad’s one real joy in life, his Old English Game Fowl (he was a judge for the Oxford OEGF Club), often paid for our clothes and shoes. I am the eldest of three brothers, we would have had hand-me-down clothes, but we were three completely different sizes! This was difficult when mum and dad had little spare cash. While the hens paid for a lot of our school clothes, and were a cash-boon for mum and dad, none of us were interested in carrying on dad’s huge reputation as a top international breeder of fighting cocks! He started when he was eleven, with grandad. We never got going with it, and when he left us, so did the birds!

One year, I remember the hunt coming to the farm. Dad had asked them to visit because we were losing so many new lambs to foxes. He had been using snares (now illegal, but not then) and sitting up at night trying to shoot them by “squeaking” them into the beam of a powerful lamp. He never liked that approach though, as winging a fox was a horrible way for it to die. He always told us that wounding a fox often led to a slow painful death for them. We watched the hunt from the farm, concious that the sheep were in the fields, full of lamb or nursing their new born. We were always ready to rush into the fields to make sure the hounds did little to bother the sheep. On the fellside above the farm, they caught seven foxes in an afternoon. We were confident that this would help reduce the problems we were having. The next week we lost 15 lambs, that was a huge dent in the annual takings for the farm.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think foxes are cute. They play and gambol like all other animals, wild or domestic. They are beautiful to look at, and they do a lot of good by keeping down the rabbit population. But when Peter Rabbit runs away and there are fewer pickings for the fox, they will decimate a field for of newborn lambs if they are allowed. There is little left in this country as vicious as a hungry fox. There is also little in our animal population that carries more disease than a wild fox – rats I suppose, but ALF people like to save the rats too!

The trouble is that most people don’t see the downside of being a carnivore. They just know how they want their steak, or lamb chop. They never have to walk through a pen of sheep and decide which ones are going to market today, and will be on a plate next week. I can tell many stories of me wrongly giving animals names, only to realise that “Fred” I was feeding from a bottle last week is this Sunday’s roast on the table. It’s not true that you get hardened to it either, I know I never did. But, like us needing to burn oil until we build better ways to make power, or using nuclear without the proper means to control and contain the waste, the time will come when our diet will change enough to not need worry about what the fox does for fun. Don’t work at changing what people are doing for sport – change what they eat and remove the reasons for attacking the fox. That way, the few “toffs on horses” will become far more isolated, and have to slope back to their country houses and find solace in keeping the inbreeding under control!