Snapshot Saturday: Prolific plastic

It was on a day out in Sitges near Barcelona that I had my light-bulb moment.  It was a gloriously sunny January day, and we had the beach almost to ourselves: a clean, sandy and utterly unpolluted beach.  Here it is.

Sitges, one bright January morning.

And yet …… I took it into my head to spend just five minutes having my own personal Plastic Litter Pick on this apparently plastic-free beach.  Here is my haul.

From the beach in Sitges, one bright January morning.

When we got back to Ripon, we found that a new group had been formed.  Initially a group of two, it quickly grew.  These are  local people  looking for a Plastic Free Ripon.

Plastic is part of all our lives (you try eliminating it and see just how hard it is), but single-use plastic doesn’t have to be.   We’re 60 miles from the nearest beach, but it’s coastal communities who have perhaps woken up to the threat that plastic in our oceans represents, and Surfers against Sewage who have provided Ripon, and dozens of other communities with a toolkit to help us begin eliminate needless plastic from our city.

Thanks to a small group of foot-soldiers marching to local businesses and spreading the word,  neighbourhood shops have committed to discouraging customers from having plastic bags.  Some takeaways have invested in compostable food containers.  There are bars that have decided against issuing plastic straws.  Commit to taking three decisive steps to eliminate plastic, and your business in Ripon can be awarded plastic free-status.  Many have eagerly responded to the challenge.

There’s much else to do.  Hotels and bed and breakfast establishments are still providing little single-use plastic bottles of shower gel and lotions.  School dinner providers still issue single-use bottles of water.  Garden centres sell their wares in single-use plastic plant pots. Residents and passers-through who should know better sling bottles and packaging from car windows or outside take-aways.  So that’s why there will be regular community litter-picks.

I wish I could say I was in the vanguard of all this action.  I’m not, though I’m a small part of it.  There’s a small gang working utterly indefatigably, and already they’ve made a huge difference.  All the same.  Like so many others, Malcolm and I have gone old-fashioned and eschew the plastic milk cartons in the supermarket.  The early-morning milkman delivers us our early-morning pinta in a glass bottle for us to rinse out and return.  Just like the good old days.

Drinka pinta milka day. (1959 slogan from the Milk Marketing Board)

‘Prolific’ is this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge.

Snapshot Saturday: the awakening garden

Originality has gone out of the window as I enter Day Twelve of the Great Coughing Virus.  I’ve found some pictures from last year’s much more clement spring.  This is a walk round and about the awakening garden, exactly a year ago.

This week’s WordPress photo challenge is ‘Awakening’.  Click on any image to view full size.

Snapshot Saturday: the happy bookworm

I’ve been smiling a lot this week, and it’s all thanks to Lucy Mangan, and her new book ‘Bookworm: a memoir of childhood reading’.

Bookworm. And underneath it, another excellent read. Any guesses?

I’d thought that as a child, I was bookworm too.  Compared with Lucy Mangan I wasn’t even trying.  She resented the time wasted in eating a meal, and as for playing with friends – she never even considered doing that.

Yes, I can remember that Christmas when I was 10, when I was given 19, yes NINETEEN paperbacks, and had finished the first one before we’d even cut into the Christmas cake.

I can remember the row when my father, getting up for a night-time toddle to the bathroom, found me happily reading my way through another installment of ‘Jennings and Darbishire‘ or ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe‘.  Did it never occur to my parents to wonder how I could have got through a book a day any other way?

Lucy’s mother must be a few years older than me.  Lucy herself is only a couple of years older than Tom, and was brought up only a a mile or two away from where he lives now.

Because she was such a redoubtable reader, Lucy Mangan not only read the books that I enjoyed reading with Tom, Ellie and Emily, and now with grandchildren too: but she also discovered the treasures familiar to me as a child of the 1950’s.  I know she wrote this book just for me.

I was born before the Golden Age of the picture book.  Luckily my children weren’t.  ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’? Judith Kerr’s ‘Mog’ booksShirley HughesQuentin Blake?  How had I managed without them?

 

 

I’ve wallowed this week in memories of ‘My Naughty Little Sister‘; ‘The Church Mice‘; John Burningham; Raymond Briggs; Roald Dahl; ‘The Secret Garden‘ and all those 19th century classics by – largely female – American authors.

 

 

You couldn’t keep the smile off my face if you tried.

This post is in response to this week’s WordPress photo challenge, ‘Smile’.  It’s a total cop out on my part.  I don’t think my photo of a book jacket is exactly rising to the occasion, do you?

Click on any image to view full size.

Snapshot Saturday: The timeless drama of a sunset

I’ve shown these photos before.  I’ve even shown them in a previous WordPress Photo Challenge.  But I’ll never forget this February sunset from a few years ago in Laroque d’Olmes.  ‘Dramatic’ doesn’t seem an overstatement here.

 

 

This is my contribution to this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge inviting shots of a sunrise or sunset. Click on any image to view full size.

Snapshot Saturday: a murmuration of starlings

Last Monday, towards evening, the place to be was our home. We dashed from window to window, watching as dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of starlings descended on the trees round our house. They weighed down the branches, then in coordinated waves – responding to some urge we could not understand – they swept skywards, tearing across the garden, swooping, diving, before briefly settling again to repeat the performance again and again for a whole three-quarters of an hour, before finally disappearing to settle near the river for the night.

So near to our house, those mesmerising formations of groups of birds twisting and turning in harmony, as if in some graceful aerial dance weren’t so apparent as they are at a distance.  We were rewarded instead by seeing them at close quarters, rising, landing and  rising again from the trees near our house.

  A murmuration of starlings, especially for us.

 

Our car didn’t enjoy the display quite so much.

These photos are for this week’s WordPress photo challenge, Favourite Place. Click on any image to view full size

Snapshot Saturday: I’d rather not be in a mudslick

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge invites us to show images of where we’d rather be at the moment.  Well, I’ll tell you where I’d rather not be, and that’s here, in North Yorkshire.

I love Yorkshire, and I’m happy to agree that it’s ‘God’s own country’.  But frankly, life here is a little trying just now.  Like most of England, we had The Beast from the East a couple of weeks ago bearing snow, blizzard and fierce wind.  And much of the rest of the time it’s been raining.  This photo was taken a couple of months ago: since then, things have only got worse.

This is what our country walks have become: Nutwith Common in January

So how about a little trip back to the Ariège, where we lived from 2007 to 2014?  Here’s a selection of photos, all taken there in March or very early April.  Down in the foothills of the Pyrenees where we lived, blossoms were out, and wild daffodils carpeted the more out-of-the-way hills.  At the weekend we would head off for Montségur and higher land to enjoy the snow that was still thick there.  We were never fans of snow-shoeing, but now I’d be more than happy to exchange their crisp deep snow for our thick deep mud.

 

Click on any photo to see it full size.

Snapshot Saturday: many stories – one cathedral

This week’s pictures hint at two or more stories: at that of the life of Jesus, from whose life and teaching spring one of the world’s great religions. And at the building of La Sagrada FamiliaAntoni Gaudí’s cathedral celebrating Jesus’ family, created by thousands of craftspeople with special stories to tell, gathered over the last 136 years …. maybe only another eight or so to go.

 

 

 

‘Story’ is this week’s WordPress photo challenge.  Click on any image to view full size.