Easter Tree & Plant Quiz Hexham


I invite you and your folks to have a little bit of an explore up in the woods
“Gallow’s Bank” over the Easter weekend and see if you can find and discover specific trees and plants and complete the names you see on the tags next to the trees/plants? See map below for approximate locations
of Trees and plants:

Easter Tree Quiz Map

On the map you can see an arrow to start at no.9 but you don’t have to, you can start at any number as they aren’t in any particular order.


1.)I’m a tree, I can grow to be 35m one of the tallest trees i the forest!

2.)I’m also a tree and some people get really annoyed
by the amount of mast(fruit) I can drop in certain years!

3.)I’m a tree too and in the second week of March you can tap me for my delicious and nutritious sap which rises quickly in early spring as it makes its way up through my xylem and phloem to feed my unfurling and growing leaves!

4.)There are a whole bunch of other trees here screaming for your attention but I am the grandest of them all, erm well at least I think so?
I’m a type of maple and
my leaves are Palmate (palm shaped) usually measure 7–16cm when fully grown and have five lobes. Leaf stalks of younger trees are characteristically red and the leaves are lighter in colour and only about 3 to 5cm when they are young

5.)I’m a tree too but I am smaller than my other native cousins. Many people have been known to plant me in mixed hedgerows as a way of creating and maintaining
a habitat for door mice who love to feed on my catkins (male flowers) although by easter
these are usually long gone as the leaves are starting to come out now
, plus the doormice might have enjoyed them  a little too much 😉

6.)I’m a climber and can sometimes even damage other plants I’m climbing but not intentionally. I have been known to give off a beautiful sweet scent in summer and produce a delicious honey like nectar from my flowers for bees and other insects.

7.)People often use me in wreaths at christmas time and I have very prickly leaves!

8.)Theres a song with my name in it but beware even
though you may see birds eating my black fruits I am poisonous! Look for my tag a little higher than the ground, I too am a climber/creeper and can often be found absolutely swamping trees!

9.)I’m a small little plant low on the woodland floor with a famous children’s rhyme to sing to me: Do you like butter? Do you like cheese? Do you like sitting on the housemaid’s knee? Hold me up to your chin and see!

10.)September is when you will visit me most for it is then that I will have many delicious fruits to boast, but watch out when you pick for I bite and I prick with my prickly stem!

11.)My name rhymes with kettle and I don’t bite I sting, so you best have a lot of mettle, however if you do get stung there is sure to be a dock leaf nearby that will sooth your skin and take away the sting!

I really can’t help it but I believe Honesty is the best policy so I simply must confess that I’m quite pretty with lovely delicate lilac flowers in spring and a dainty almost paper thin round seed pod that shows off even in winter!

13.)Unlike my stinging cousin I do not sting but if you rub my leaves I do pong a bit. I am a great ground cover and bees love to visit my flowers so please don’t trample me or cut me in the spring.

14.)I have a Giant Cousin that grows mostly in Scotland and has been known to cause serious harm to a person’s skin. I however am not dangerous. other members of my family include fennel, cow parsley and the wonderful ground elder which some people are not so fond of!

Please be careful during the lock down to only carry out this detective work as part of your daily excercise and do not touch the tags so as to keep yourself safe as well as remembering to practice social distancing at all times!

There will be a prize up for grabs for one lucky winner who completes all 14 names!
A Hat draw will be held at the end of competition which runs until Thursday 16th April after which the lucky winner can come and collect their prize from a secret location only revealed to the lucky winner. Details of this will be shared with the lucky winner’s parents who can either come with you to collect your prize or come and fetch it themselves?

The reason I decided to do this quiz was to try and contribute to my local community and perhaps give them a little smile or a fun thing to do just in case you had run out of ideas yourself?

I have children myself and I know it can be tough right now never mind pre Covid-19 to try to maintain some sense of collective and positive spirit, particularly while living for extended periods together in a confined space! Hang in there, we will get through this and we will be stronger and more resilient human beings for it!

I will be posting more information here over the course of the next couple of days to provide more interest and hopefully a little curiosity and fascination at the wonder of nature we are all so very lucky to be a part of. More fun and interesting facts about each incredible tree and fantastic plant which form part of the quiz will follow !

Things you might find helpful during your exploration:

1.)A phone or camera to take pictures.
2.)A notepad and pencil or pen to record the names. from the name tags next to each tree/plant.
3.)Your sensible head on your shoulders.
4.)Gloves to be safe.
5.)A bottle of water is always a good idea if you like.
6.)A print out of the map and the list of clues might be helpful 😉
7.)Remember to have fun!:-)

On a more serious note to parents:

We can think of those in other parts of the world who at any given time may not enjoy the privilege of a warm bed, food in their tummy and a mum and dad that love them or they may be fortunate enough to have all these things but they live in a city with concrete and steel everywhere and it helps to be aware that not all of us are as privileged as the next person which is exactly why in these challenging times I don’t need to tell you how important supporting community is.

I feel this is very important as part of every child’s natural cognitive development but I leave it to your discretion whether you feel it necessary to discuss these themes with your kids over the Easter weekend.

Watch this space in the coming days for more details!!

Important! Please read the quiz rules below and download and fill in the endemnity form before partcipating. This is a free event but it is best to take
all necessary precautions as always and understand that like everything it carries with it a certain level of risk. Thank you for your understanding. Have fun!

Continue reading “Easter Tree & Plant Quiz Hexham”


Should you say No to 5G in your town?

Read the article from the link below




I’ve come to a conclusion about the World Wide Web and several other realisations. The irony of it is that it’s taken me several years to reach this level of appreciation which supports my theory that over accumulation of energy corrupts all things.

Though the “tinternet” is just a tool, just as much as fiat currency is a tool to achieve just about anything, the difference, lies in one’s response-ability to determine how and for what they use it?!

A great deal of good has come to pass and been realised because of the World Wide Web with its far reaching capabilities but I don’t believe the inventors at DARPA fathomed the depths of deprivation that many would sink to due to miseducation and misrepresentation while using this tool.
Or perhaps some of them did and this was intentional? We may never know but is that really of any great importance overall?

There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the advent of the internet has opened countless doors and closed many others within the convolutions of the collective consciousness. The old adage of: “one door closes and another opens” can all too often be reversed through improper use of both the internet and education.

It is blatantly obvious that in the last decade or more, the internet has become one of the most effective tools for far reaching propoganda of all forms but above all, in the political arena and sadly, not always for positive, equitable results.
This again supports my theory that too much power, too much accumulated energy in whatever shape or form, corrupts it’s environment! In particular, the environment of the mind, but also the ecosystem of the body.

We see evidence of this in every facet of experience and in recent years this pilfering and discombobulation seems to be culminating in the ultimate corruption of the collective consciousness and adding to our cognitive dissonance and our “under standing” more and more!

This leads me to believe that we have become over reliant on the internet as a one stop solution for just about anything imaginable. A silver bullet solution¡ Yes indeed the bullet that kills all imagination and creativity. I believe this has created a global breeding ground (a culture if you like) for growing above all, non plastic, immovable, bigoted, separatist and divisive mindsets, overarching negative and destructive modes of thought, disillusioned shallow thinking, new naive belief systems (that have a very long way to journey before they blossom and reach any form of altruism) and unsociable behaviour which will result in our very own demise. Without a doubt we have brought all of this upon ourselves both through our subjugation and our consent. Our ability to respond has been terribly misguided for millennia now to the point where now we are so used to reacting that its become a “second nature” A replacement for actual nature!
Essentially we are devolving, instead of evolving. We are imploding as a species, not rippling out as nature intends. Fracturing rather than fractaling.

For centuries as humans we lived in harmony and in nature and although there has been war, famine, poverty and death there has also been much happiness and peace. Thus the balance was preserved.

In the last 300 years( perhaps longer, I’m no historian) it would appear that this balance has been corrupted by replacement, a stomping out of nature, and now in the last 60 to 70 years a “cancel culture” which I believe, based on my research, had some of its origins in the first Industrial Revolution and the discovery of fossil fuels and alternative energy, the latter of which we still have so little comprehension.

One of my most adored lines of all time, dreamt up by an artist who’s work I highly appreciate, Fionn Regan is, and I quote: ” We shake hands with lighting…. for an apple on a string”!

It literally sends shivers down my spine everytime I listen to it!

Perhaps this is all part of the bigger picture, of which we can only guess at and ponder in “amazement” a mental maze.

Perhaps centuries ago, the great philosophers and scientists of old realised how chaotic life is but in their own folly, decided that all that was needed was order and made the reactionary measure to create “govern ment” as a means to govern and control the mental attitudes of a growing populus!?

They became fearful of the minotaur in the maze, the darkness that was slowly, quietly breeding and festering within the deepest recesses of their corrupted minds, for you see knowledge is also an energy, just like everything in existence. It too can be accumulated to such a degree that it begins to corrupt. Such is the nature of all things and it is why I stand firmly by my belief that “everything in moderation is the key” the key to balance and order.

But we cannot create balance out of control. This is a grandiose delusion and will lead to only more pain and suffering of the worst kind imaginable. If one learns how to quiet the “monkey mind” and observe nature, one starts to “innerstand” rather than “understand” and the innerstanding begins with you.
Only you hold the keys to your innerstanding, nobody holds dominion over you, nor do they hold dominion over anything else except themselves.

The matrix starts to fall away and one begins to observe with absolute clarity, ones own truth and in so doing , eventually all truths, but this isn’t some great awakening. It is more of an acceptance of the great letting go!

Letting go of control.

To think that we can control everything is the greatest delusion of all and the source of all human pain and suffering and the source of all pain and suffering for all things on earth for I believe that we are here as stewards, wardens, not of the prisons of our minds, but of the free earth and it’s creatures of all shapes and forms and sizes.

This does not mean that we are meant to control things, quiet the opposite. Paying attention and observing are the first steps towards “enlightenment” lightening of the mental. Or illuminating of the mind. For too many centuries, this most humble and natural way of being in tune with nature has been stomped out, pushed aside and forgotten and all teachers, educators and students alike, would be wise to remember this.

We have forgotten our natural vibrations and too much time spent in the virtual world disrupts and corrupts ones natural vibrations and in so doing this great criminal negligence which we inflict on ourselves becomes ever more pervasive, ever more ubiquitous. Technology is incredible but it is also very dangerous and very destructive if misused, just like any tool! Use it wisely and with caution.

Nature has all the answers to all our questions.

A study published earlier in 2020 from the Cornell University confirms one of the many benefits. This is not new to our knowledge, only it has been forgotten. My gratitude to Cornell University for the stark reminder of how important it is to maintain our connection with nature, connection with ourselves, for we are nature. An excerpt from the study can be read here: https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2020/02/spending-time-nature-reduces-stress-research-finds

Consider taking a little time in each day to go and search for those answers. Not on some convoluted, corrupted search engine, not on some social media platform, but along a public footpath, a woodland or meadow nearby, a stream, a hill, a beach , a hedgerow or even just your own garden if you don’t currently have the means to travel far.

I am reminded here of the beautifully insightful phrase from the poet, William Blake: ” To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower. Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.”*

For far too long we have been neglecting the questions of our “innerstanding” and gone in search of answers to support our under standing. Why would we want to stand under anything? Go out into the light and be at peace in nature. Be at peace in yourself knowing that every part of your garden that you touch, every part of your garden that you tend to, is all you can ever do and that is enough and one should never expect anything more, nor anything less of one’s self or anyone else. Namaste 🙏

*https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/blake/to_see_world.html for the full poem!

disclaimer: I do not proclaim that any of the information appearing in this article can be construed as fact, but that it may potentially be derived from factual information discovered over the years of reading numerous books, articles, media of all kinds.

Cogito, ergo sum

The famous proposition by the French Philosopher and mathematician Descartes which translated into English as “I think, therefore , I am” was probably the turning point on which our entire modern society pivoted away from an era ruled by religious ritual and ceremony, observing the lunar and solar cycles as a way of tracking time passing and abiding by the word of God as an absolute and so forth and so on?

Descartes viewed the world, indeed the earth as a machine, a mechanical entity that could be picked apart, analysed and reassembled however we so wished for our own benefit. The mere fact that the prefix of the Latin word “Cogito” is “cog” should come as no surprise! As if like cogs in a machine or a clock, everything was perceived as such. When I think about the word-play within this phrase I can say that maybe Descartes thought about humans and this world we live in as “the sum of all cogs is an understanding of the whole!”?

Isn’t it quite remarkable how one small phrase hundreds of years ago may have quiet literally set the cogs in motion that have literally changed the face of our planet for millennia? As a small example: if you imagine the pendulum of a clock and the symbolism of the it, swinging from side to side or back and forth, (however you want to perceive it in time and space), it can appear as binary? It certainly sounds it! tic..toc..tic..toc…

Like the call into the wild of the first humans, terrified of what could be out there or terrified of a response to their own frightened feeble attempt to understand the unknown, this all a part of our genetic makeup, or is it just some cogs set in motion by a more modern, shrewd calculating 16th century madman who secretly suffered from such cognitive dissonance that he was not even aware of it, or he was aware but it had no bearing on his conscious thoughts because he was in such a state of denial? Who knows what the physcological state of this man was so many hundreds of years ago?

Suffice to say he must have been wholly committed to his belief system to such an extent and in his shrewdness realised that he was in a position of great influence on the church otherwise he would never have been bold enough to utter such a sentence for fear of being labelled as a heretic and cast down from the level of authority and privilege he must have been enjoying wholeheartedly at that time!

“I think therefore I am” as if simply stating a sentence gives absolute understanding of life and death and all existence? How arrogant and equally how naive must one be to believe in such utter tripe!??

Fundamentally as beings we may be binary in the sense that we are born and then we die and there may be many other events and occurrences that appear to manifest in a binary fashion such as breathing in and breathing out or being hungry and being satisfied, but when we go beyond these basic needs there is far more to life and death than just “this” or “that”. As if to say that the whole premise of existence is compete or cease to exist!?

I believe as do some others that government very quickly, since such modes of thought became manifest and further evolved as popular belief, began adopting such thinking so as to influence and further assert influence and control over the populus of the time as a method of “comfort” or to “make strong” from Old French “conforter” n- changed to m- began in Old English 14c

The general public, who up until then were believed to be led by the word of the church and or their god now began to wonder about a new found freedom of “individuality” and so the seed was sown and a new age was born of a process or program of duality and division i.o.w. indivi-duality or divide yourself from others because they are “other”, they are different, not to be trusted, and even less understood.

This along with the gigantic cathedrals that dwarfed humans so as to make them seem small and insignificant may have solidified this lack of oneness which completely juxtaposes what these buildings should’ve been about? Maybe the only sense of oneness that was felt amongst the congregation was a feeling of insignificance, just cogs in the machine, over which they had no control and so still we must turn to authority for understanding, comforting and a sense that someone is keeping a watchful eye over everything for our benefit!? right?

Perhaps this was not the outcome that the scientist and philosopher Descartes had predicted or envisioned, perhaps this was because he viewed life as a process to reach an outcome probably imbued by his strong sense of mathematical understandings and the outcome was the driving force behind the process rather than the other way around? What do I know , I am no mathematician?

Perhaps it is not the tic tocking of the clock that we should paying all of our attention to, but rather the steady rhythm of our hearts that pumps the life blood through our veins and keeps us alive, conscious and sentient. So that we may focus with every waking moment, as if it were our last, on the rhythm of our breath that expands our lungs to give life giving oxygen to our brains so that we may expand our consciousness out into the cosmos, or maybe for now, even just towards our friend who is staring right back at us with the same vibrant energised enthusiasm for life and all it’s exquisite wonders, wondering what tomorrow will bring?

Not with fear and loathing for what may come, but with joy and an abundance of hope in our hearts as we take the next step along our wonderful journey!

Dislcaimer: This peace draws inspiration from Bernt Capra’s “Mindwalk”, Daniel Christian Wahl’s “Regenerative Cultures” and Tool’s “Third Eye” from their album “Salival” as well as some of my own personal musings and does not in anyway represent or intend to misconstrue previously held belief systems. It is merely my interepretation of the Cartesian Paradigm or Cartesian Duality.

Does an empty can rattle the most?

Hmm? I’m not sure, that depends on whether or not it’s still lined with epoxy resin, acrylic, polyester or heaven forbid, BPA!!???
Once again another discovery that makes my blood literally boil!
You might be horrified to discover that some tins/cans depending on whether you are UK/US are still lined with either a type of polymer (Petroleum derived ester) or Bisphenol A (BPA)? This is to prevent the contents of the can reacting with the metal and starting a corrosive reaction!
Most of you know about BPA as the internet is rife with scares about this chemical but you may not be aware that tins are still lined with other plastics?
I just wanted to bring it to your attention for those of you still unaware that yes, they are still lined with plastic. Bad for you, Bad for the environment!
Yet again another reason for all shops, grocers, supermarkets etc to embrace and transition to refill stations such as the current trial at the Waitrose in Oxford https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jun/04/waitrose-launches-packaging-free-trial where the products you are coming to refill with are either in a glass container or BPA and pthalate free plant derived cellulose based plastic receptacle.
Please read on to find out more in this very informative article about polyester polymers etc. The article contains many links to other websites for cross referencing and to get a less biased and/or more informed opinion of where they got their sources of data from.
Here is the article: http://plasticisrubbish.com/2010/10/08/why-does-my-tin-can-have-a-plastic-liner-and-it-it-bad-for-me/
If you want to go on to argue that most tin cans now use acrylic and or polyester, well polyester is still a petroleum derived polymer and only becomes a polymer after undergoing a chemical process where reactive monomers are changed into polymers.
Many argue that these monomers, even though apparently locked in, can still leach out and pose a danger to the health of humans and all other biological life forms and it doesn’t take much exposure either!

These monomers are highly reactive and highly toxic and considered as carcinogens so the clothes you wear if containing polyester might be a cause for concern if Polyester is listed as one of the fabric’s materials?
As always go and do your own research so as to make your own informed decision. Not all inventions are that great for us or the planet as we are very rapidly and very regularly now coming to know as the actual truth rather than the lies we have been fed since time immemorial!
You can read more about polyester polymers and monomers here:

*Disclaimer: I am neither responsible for the content appearing on the pages reached via these links and neither am I affiliated with anything or anyone appearing or pertaining to the information therein. As always I advise you to dig deeper if you so wish and please feel free to comment, clarify or even correct if you discover something counter to the information in both my article and the links provided? I am always open to others opinions and we are free to discuss and openly debate in a healthy manner so as to reach a concensus.

A beautiful Poem to Kickstart 2020!

The Sunrise Before the Deer

I was wondering if I could shape this passion
Just as I wanted in solid fire
I was wondering if the strange combustion of my days
The tension of the world inside of me
And the strength of my heart were enough
I was wondering if I could stand as tall
While the tide of the sea rose and fell
If the sky would recede as I went
Or the earth would emerge as I came
To the door of the morning, locked against the sun

I was wondering if I could make myself
Nothing but fire, pure and incorruptible
The wound of the wind on my face
Would be healed by the work of my life
Or the growth of the pain in my sleep
Would be stopped in the strife of my days

I am wondering if the agony of years
Could be traced to the seed of an hour
If the roots that spread out in the swamp
Ran too deep for the issuing flower
I was wondering if I could find myself
All that I am in all that I could be
If all the population of stars
Would be less than the things I could utter
And the challenge of space in my soul
Be filled by the shape I become

I walk slowly in the wind
Watching myself in things I did not make;
In jumping shadows and in limping cripples
Dust on earth and houses tight with sickness
Deep constant pain, the dream without sleep

I walk slowly in the wind
Hearing myself in the loneliness of a child
In woman’s grief, which is not understood
In coughing dogs when midnight lingers long
On stones, on streets and then on echoing stars
That burn all night and suddenly go out

I walk slowly in the wind
Knowing myself in every moving thing
In years and days and words that mean so much
Strong hands that shake, long roads that walk
And deeds that do themselves
And all this world and all these lives to live

I walk slowly in the wind
Remembering scorn and naked men in darkness
And huts of iron rivetted to earth
Cold huts of iron stand upon this earth
Like rusting prisons
Each is well marked and each wide roof is spread
Like some dark wing
Casting a shadow or living a curse

I walk slowly in the wind
To lifted sunset red and gold and dim
A long brown river slanting to an ocean
A fishing boat, a man who cannot drown

I walk slowly in the wind
And birds are swift, the sky is blue like silk
From the big sweeping ocean of water
An iron ship rusted and brown achors itself
And the long river runs like a snake
Silent and smooth

I walk slowly in the wind
I hear my footsteps echoing down the tide
Echoing like a wave on the sand or a wing on the wind
Echoing echoing
A voice in the soul, a laugh in the funny silence

I walk slowly in the wind
I walk because I cannot crawl or fly

Disclaimer: I do not claim to own this work of art or any of the words in it. I do not portray it here for any other reason than to share it’s profound and evocative and mysteriously moving themes! I am not the Author of this poem and do not claim any rights to it, nor do I post it here to gain any sort of compensation, monetary gain or public recognition.
I merely found it so moving that I thought this beautiful poem should not remain hidden from the world. All Credit and rights reserved for Linton Kwesi Johnson for his wisdom and deeply imaginative expression!

The Happy Hippo! Or is it really that happy anymore?

maxresdefaultYes Yes Yes!!!!! The Happy Hippo!!! nothing better !

Finally something being said about this! brilliant!

Maddy Harland Editor and co-founder of Permaculture Magazine speaks briefly to Rob Hopkins about our imagination and what we can do to reconnect with it!
Watch the clip here: Rob Hopkins – Reclaiming Our Imaginations!s!

My Thoughts after watching the short video over on LinkedIn:

I fear for our children more so than anyone else as they have been growing up in a world where the internet has always just been there, where disconnecting is considered as normal human behaviour!
Well I can tell you now its definitely not normal human behaviour                                        to be constantly disconnected!

In a world where for the last 40 years we’ve have been super *hypernormalising!

Constantly distracting ourselves from actual reality! This is not good for the Happy Hippo! In fact its actually becoming a very sad hippocampus with the constant over stimulation from simulated reality via screens and virtual realms!
The fact that our children in most cases never switch off causes me the most alarm!
From the moment they wake until the moment they go to sleep its just a constant bombardment of one distraction after another! They move from screen to screen and
I get almost physically sick when I see parents who exercise very little restraint over the time their 18 month old child spends holding and observing a mobile phone or tablet or Ipad or whatever!!???

What actually happens within a surprisingly short period of time is the phone or “Things” become more important to the child than their parents because they are not getting the attention and love they so desperately need in order to develop and grow as an imaginitive and creative human being!

If we are constantly disrupting the flow of our imagination with simulated light and sound from a 2 dimensional space we begin to erode and disrupt the brains natural capacity to imagine and even comprehend 3 dimensional space!

Again I speak from personal experience! Have you ever sat for 6 hours in front of the computer or television and felt good?  Probably your answer is NO!?

You felt awful when you did that right? Now imagine a child doing that from the day they could hold a device or see and hear simulated light and sound emitting from a 2 dimensional space such as a tv or tablet?
Some may argue and say but sound is multidimensional and light is also sound at a higher frequency but the fact still remains it’s the source of the light and sound that is messing with our brains for the very fact that it is simulated.

You can watch a show on the television and maybe if its a really cleverly created and filmed show it may intrigue you and stir maybe even some emotions in you but emotions aside, from a physical and/or physiological perspective, what is actually happening to the brain and the body, especially with over exposure to this blue and white light?

Imagine your child gets home from school and hops straight onto the computer to do some home work or as a bargaining tool to try and limit the amount of exposure, you ask them (because they’ve hopped straight on the Ps4 or Xbox) to do their homework first and then they can go on the console for half an hour or whatever, they have still hopped from one screen to another and then when it’s time to go to bed, which in our household is around 9 to 10 sometimes 11, we can’t keep going upstairs to monitor if they have switched their phones off and gone to bed? Some children go to sleep with their mobile phones tucked under their pillows emitting EMFs from both the antennae and the battery through their thin developing skulls and right through every cell of their brains causing irreprable damage!

A couple years ago I actually made a little box which I placed on the first step in the hallway and it was called “The Phone Box” Everyone was supposed to by choice, place their phone in the box before going to bed. Do you think anyone agreed? No! I am the only one still leaving my phone on my desk because I know that I will get a much more restful sleep if I switch off at least an hour before bed which unfortunately I am not going  get tonight due to cutting and forgetting to paste while editing this article and then having to re-write this entire passage over again! 😡

Time for bed!Time to disconnect, time for switching off and letting my imagination rejuvenate!  More to follow shortly, please watch this space!……

*credit to the acclaimed film and documentary film maker Adam Curtis for the term “Hypernormalisation” after his documentary film of the same name.
HyperNormalisation is a 2016 BBC documentary by British filmmaker Adam Curtis. The film was released on 16 October 2016


via Cycling 

Something many of us could do more of.
Yes there are plenty of things to keep you fit, but what better mode of transport can one use that allows you to cover so much ground fairly easily and enjoyably at the same time, knowing that you are leaving a very small carbon footprint as you make your way around from point A to point B and all along the way in between!

I was saddened to see John close Bykology! A much appreciated venue for all things pertaining to Bicycle maintenance and care! Maybe he will consider other opportunities Bicycle orientated? Some of these bike opportunities which I hope to bring to light at some point in the very near future!

There is an incredible amount of potential for real growth in Hexham! And I’m not talking about economic growth! That is a fallacy destined to be doomed! I’m talking about the growth of community spirit and all the things that are important to the residents of Hexham!
Like good wholesome honest ethical food and the good honest ethical work that goes into producing it!

I see a genuine fusion between bicycles and food, particularly DIY food (a.k.a. grow you own) and if anybody is interested in having a chat with me about what they can bring to the table I’m all ears and willing to get my fork stuck in and sow some seeds for thought and further action!

Please feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you if you live in the Hexham area and surrounds!

An Increcible contribution to Eco-Engineering in South Africa

aqueousphere-and-birdsvia Eco-Engineering with Floating Wetlands

Solving South Africa’s devastating water issues, compounded by drought and destruction of wetlands, has fallen to a new generation of engineers who work ecologically with nature, in many cases mimicking natural phenomena like floating wetlands.

Wetlands supply us with much more than water. Besides supporting populations of fish and other edible resources, in some instances they control flooding, recharge natural underground water sources, and can be used effectively to clean waste. Simply, aquatic plant life acts as a ‘decomposer’, filtering and trapping harmful substances, sediments and nutrients in their roots, and through a kidney-like process allows microbes to absorb them for their own growth. So effective is this process, that wetlands have historically become a convenient system for the disposal of waste, be that sewage or industrial, as a result polluting not just the wetlands but rivers, and soaking down into groundwater bodies and the soil needed for agriculture.

The impacts are horrendous, and civil engineers have spent huge amounts of money finding, largely, concrete solutions. However, one of the simplest answers lies in nature itself, with the phenomenon of floating wetlands. Naturally occurring floating islands are masses of vegetation that have broken away from a shoreline because their roots can no longer reach the soil. The mass of roots is buoyant and can grow to many hectares, supporting all manner of life.

The emergence of eco-engineers, who work ecologically with nature, has prompted thorough studies into how to salvage and recreate wetlands, and innovators have turned to nature for the answer and begun to create artificial floating islands. Yolandi Schoeman from Baoberry, an ecological engineering services company, is one of those innovators advocating for more sustainable solutions.

Wetland warrior

Schoeman is a finalist in the eco-innovation category of the Eco-Logic Awards, and a third prize recipient of the City of Johannesburg’s Green Challenge Fund, for her work on the Baoberry floating island treatment called AqueouSphere, which creates a micro-habitat for the surrounding species in which it is placed.

One of the reasons the prototype caught the judges’ attention is its adaptability and wide application: not only can Baoberry’s islands be used for waste and stormwater treatments but also for shoreline remediation, fish spawning, conservation practices, living walkways, erosion control, aesthetic water-scaping, carbon sequestration, and community projects. “The beauty of the AqueouSphere is that it can create sustainable businesses, particularly for local agricultural communities, and by default inspire other downstream businesses, and comes in either wet or dry formats,” says Schoeman.

The plants used are varied, depending on their ultimate purpose. Results from the AqueouSphere prototypes we have placed around Johannesburg are proving that Cyperus sp and Typha sp are showing levels of manganese, iron, aluminium and other contaminants being absorbed into the roots and foliage, while promoting a reduction in algae and improved overall ecosystem function and health,” says Schoeman.

Costs for one square metre of an AqueouSphere starts at R1500 (including the plants). AqueouSpheres are made from a combination of Polyethylene and natural materials, and are non-toxic. The plants are selected based on the environment and ecosystem characteristics they will be introduced into, and the type of contaminants needing to be removed from the ecosystem. They have an indeterminate lifespan and once positioned, begin working immediately. The ultimate result is that not only is water made cleaner (but not necessarily drinkable), the environment begins to recover and a natural balance is restored, ensuring that compromised wetlands do not die. AqueouSpheres can also be integrated in constructed wetlands to improve efficiency.

Broader applications

Mines could find AqueouSpheres enormously helpful, particularly those with acid mine drainage issues because they will survive long after mining operations cease and therefore continue to remove contaminants so that a functional ecosystem remains.

Water activist Anthony Turton is particularly concerned with how mining impacts wetlands, given that they are the natural source of many national rivers. The Upper Vaal water management area is a case in point, being the source for the Vaal River.

“There are a myriad of wetlands that are relatively functional in this area, yet underlying them all is a massive coal deposit. When that is mined, it will destroy the headwaters of one of our major national water resources,” he explains.

Turton endorses floating islands, and Schoeman’s innovation in particular, because both work with nature as opposed to working against it. “Wetlands do for free what engineered solutions do at great cost.”

Trusted technology

Floating wetlands have proven their capability at Hartebeespoort Dam in Gauteng. In 2009 the project Metsi a Me, loosely translated from Tswana meaning ‘my water’, was implemented and included floating islands. Petrus Venter from the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation, and the programme’s leader, explains that biological intervention was needed to protect and recover the destruction of diversity and aquatic ecosystems in the Dam and upper catchment, resulting from the 2.8million people living upstream. Close to 1000km of an upstream river and 56km of shoreline of the Dam has been destroyed or seriously impacted.

Experimental though it was in 2009, Metsi a Me has become the most watched, and largest floating wetlands project globally, to Venter’s knowledge, and has been recognised and supported internationally by Finland and the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), with interest shown by China in terms of copying the project.  The diversity of the aquatic eco-systems, such as fish, plankton and birdlife also improved dramatically. “The Red Knobbed Coot numbers, for example, had increased from 600 in 2009 to 4 600 in the past couple of years.

“Ultimately nature at work, prodded by artificial intervention, has re-introduced oxygen to the bottom of the dam, which helps to block the nutrients released from the sediment that algae thrives on. Even historical phosphate pollution has been reduced,” says Venter.

“We may not be able to control water pollution completely, that is the political state of the country unfortunately, but we can try to improve conditions for the future and sustain those. Floating islands have the magic to help us achieve this objective.”

Natural order

Continuing testing and monitoring is crucial, says Schoeman because  “there is little to no research on social sustainability fused with technology that has economic benefit. There has to be public participation, else there is a chance that artificial interventions, such as AqueouSpheres, will be ineffective due to ignorance or misunderstanding.

This has led to Schoeman spearheading The Ecological Engineering Institute of Africa, which is anticipated to be a centre of excellence, research and training facility across the continent, and will be motivating for eco- engineering post- and under-graduate degrees. “Largely we will be setting out to eliminate the skepticism that surrounds eco-engineering, particularly within municipalities that need to be swayed from concrete solutions. However, we have to bear in mind that eco-engineering is still relatively young in South Africa.”

By Kerry Dimmer

See earthworks Issue 31, April-May 2016 for the full feature.

Earthworks Magazine article

Isn’t Blockchain interesting?hmmm?


Isn’t it rather odd when you look at the people who are on the board of directors of this company?

Doesn’t it make one wonder? What are their motives? I mean their true motives!?!

Just a thought when pondering Blockchain and AI?…

cognizant board of directors

Considering that probably as much as 85% of the worlds population are enslaved to AI already, Blockchain is merely the tool that will assimilate all these separate AI systems into one amalgamation. Isn’t this what we want?

Strange then that this choice to allow ourselves to be subject to this enslavement will ultimately end up with many of us extremely unhappy with this so called freedom of choice! The same way that so many pro-brexit supporters felt  when we realised that the UK should have stayed in the EU and leaving was a very very poor and short sighted decision! Arent any of you just a little bit curious as to what is truly going on in this crazy world we live in today? Wonder a bit more before it’s too late for your children!