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Thursday, 30 November 2006

Trericket Mill

This is an outhouse at Trericket Mill in Wales. The outhouse is for the use of campers (who I think also have use of a communal bathroom in the mill guesthouse).  I love Trericket, having visted there a number of times. They are a vegetarian guesthouse, and I believe they will feature in next year’s ecoscape, the green travel guide.

ecoescape was founded by Laura Burgess, a communications specialist working in the tourism industry. After working in marketing and communications for tourism destination marketing bodies at regional and sub-regional level in the East Midlands, Laura became increasingly aware of the lack of accessible information available about sustainable travel in the UK which has traditionally focused on travel abroad.

Laura set up ecoescape as an independent enterprise to ensure that the people and environment remain central to its purpose. All profits go back into making the sustainable tourism industry exactly as the name suggests: sustainable. Ultimately the project aims to help integrate sustainability into every aspect of the industry and sees its place as integral to changing consumer perceptions through communication so that demand for sustainability increases into the future.

ecoescape’s first project is the launch of a green travel guide in spring 2007. The guide will be the first free guide to green tourism in the UK and has received support from the National Lottery Fund. Alongside the guide, educational and industry events will take place to promote sustainable tourism focusing entirely on the UK.

ecoscape also has a blog.

Posted by bigblue on 30/11/2006 at 11:12 AM
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Wednesday, 29 November 2006
Prelude Strings with Lindsay Leighton

This video shows the final eight minutes or so of Mudkip’s concert last night. It commences with a performance of We three swingers by The Teachers, followed by Can Can by the RSO Juniors (conducted by Lindsay Leighton) followed by Away in a Manger and We Wish You A Merry Christmas by the Joint Orchestras (also conducted by Lindsay Leighton).  The other teacher in the first performance on the clip is William Bass.  I hereby suggest the following motto for these young musicians:

Better sharp than out of tune.

Posted by bigblue on 29/11/2006 at 09:58 PM
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Tuesday, 28 November 2006
Mad Hat Concert

mad hat concert

This evening I went to another of these mad hat affairs (this time not for Pinkie but for my Dharma Daughter). She’s the one with the Mother Christmas hat that stands up better than the others’.  Her trick is to stuff a rat in the hat. It was the fund-raising Christmas Concert of Prelude Strings and RSO Junior. I caught the second half of the concert on video, and at the end of the concert Mudkip strolling over to the conductor and explaining the hat trick to her.

Posted by bigblue on 28/11/2006 at 09:40 PM
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Monday, 27 November 2006

Did I mention that I had put a short video of Savannah, a number performed by the Surrey County Percussion Ensemble at the Towards the Unknown Region gala at the Royal Albert Hall last week?  Apologies for the quality - it was shot with my mobile phone.

Posted by bigblue on 27/11/2006 at 09:16 PM
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Sunday, 26 November 2006
A fly in my agaric

fly agaric

I don’t know what’s been nibbling at this toadstool. It was described today in a Sindy article as highly poisonous. Fine. It stinks too. God must have made it like this for the same reason that she made metholated spirits purple: to discourage tramps from eating it. Perhaps birds and fieldmice don’t see the same colours as we do.

Here are some interesting extracts from the aforementioned Sindy article (that appeared in The Sunday Review magazine - not yet online).  The author Emma Townshend takes a walk in the woods with Justin Ruddle, the national Trust warden of Slindon Woods (West Sussex), as part of a National Trust off-season activity.

What starts as a whimsical weekend becomes a real experience on conversion. As we walk and talk, Ruddle’s enthusiasm spreads to me and all my fellow fungi-hunters. Far from being a prelude to culinary activity, on this walk, he encourages us to “look and leave”, while telling us about the forest ecosystem, as well as stuffing our heads with remarkable facts about pavement mushrooms splitting Tarmac as they come up, and the fungi that can only grow on London Underground seat cushions.

Unfortunately that’s the only bit about fungi on the London Underground. May they devote a future feature article to this subject, and answer questions such as What do these fungi live off?. My guess would be body sweat, and spilled fast-food and drink.

The article does explain how the forest fungi fit into the local ecosystem:

Ruddle’s primary goal is to get us to see this woodland as a system. Just as orchids can’t grow without their own particular friendly fungi, trees seem to do better with the local mushrooms living among their roots, exchanging nutrients for tree sugars. He explains: “In the storm of 1987 we lost so many beeches that the village was cut off for three or four days. But when we replanted with outside trees, we found that they don’t do as well as ones native to this spot, that have grown here from the start, right from seed”.

These mutually beneficial associations of tree and fungi are called “mycorrhizae”, and the invisible underground trading floor is increasingly seen as crucial to the survival of many tree species, particularly as climate change puts greater pressure on them. “Our understanding of what fungi do is changing all the time,” says Ruddle, who is trying to use his expertise to look after the woodland as a whole. Some more hostile fungi, for example Ustulina, rot a tree at the base, creating a risk that it may suddenly break at the bottom. Some eat out the heartwood. And some appear to be able to change the biochemistry of a part of a tree they “capture”, making the tree’s cells work slightly differently, for their own benefit. In general though, most fungi are doing mucn more good for their trees than I had ever realised.

I found the article fascinating. As I read these words I wonder how the village was cut off by losing so many beeches: Are they used as a local (Tarzanesque) means of transportation perhaps?

Anyway, that’s an aside: thinking about the crux of the article I wonder if they are researching the effect of the 2012 Olympic Games on the fungi of the London Underground.  All those foreign bodies coming into London and sitting on the train seats could disrupt the delicate and yet crucial ecology of our capital city’s subterranean transport system.

Posted by bigblue on 26/11/2006 at 10:13 PM
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Saturday, 25 November 2006
Godstone Station

Godstone Station

Pinkie had a friend sleep over last night and today I dropped them at Godstone Station so they could get the train to Tunbridge Wells. Pinkie came back this evening, via another friend’s party in Redhill. The train coming back was apparently delayed - due to knock-on from a vehicle striking a railway bridge near Sevenoaks.

This got me thinking that it would be useful if we had a better integrated public transport system in South East Surrey and West Kent. For starters it would be good if the two railway lines - the Oxted/Uckfield line and the Redhill/Tonbridge line - connected. A regular and reliable bus service that connected up the train services would be good.  This list is confusing. This is more user-friendly, but ultimately a service from Oxted to South Godstone, and from Oxted to Sevenoaks, would be useful.  And this sort of brings my mind back to the question of how much money has the council spent on traffic information signs (presumably for cars), and for what end?

Posted by bigblue on 25/11/2006 at 10:01 PM
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Friday, 24 November 2006
Traffic Information Signs

Tandridge Traffic Information

These signs appeared around Tandridge district several months ago. Lately their plastic coverings have started peeling like that on a two-day old mobile phone, and yet they are still not operational.

In vain I have searched the Internet, including the Tandridge District Council and Surrey County Council websites and been unable to find any further information about these constructions. I wonder what problem they are supposed to address, how much they cost and what service they will provide?

Posted by bigblue on 24/11/2006 at 10:10 PM
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Thursday, 23 November 2006
Happy birthday


Today it is Mocker’s birthday, and we gathered at his place for supper and a ginger


tart. He proudly showed us a book that has been written about him.

Posted by bigblue on 23/11/2006 at 09:19 PM
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