When students demand what to be taught, let’s listen

Students. Anti-establishment. Rebellious, or looking for an excuse to be. Demanding. Campaigning. And learning courtesy of state funding.

That was the perception of many when I was at university (which was a while ago). One of my flatmates once even sneered at a charity spokesperson on the television saying she was probably a Guardian-reading recent graduate. What did he think he was going to become upon, er, graduating?

The bit about learning courtesy of state funding is no longer true. And these protesting students, they’re getting younger. They are still at school, many of them.

Read More »When students demand what to be taught, let’s listen

Lockdown those cycling and walkway ideas

At last, this glorious England speaks. A week or so after the Scottish Parliament was among several nations to announce a plan and finance for cycle and walking infrastructure, the English government did so.

Or rather, the UK government announced a package. But was this bit just for England?

A £2bn plan to improve walk and cycleways was part of a £5bn package announced in February for improve cycle and buses.

It was made to look new when Andrew Gilligan, an adviser to the Government, trumpeted it on Saturday, as an update to the Traffic Management Act 2004. Read More »Lockdown those cycling and walkway ideas

Dandelion root

Is everything you want to remove a ‘weed’?

“Is this a weed?” my father used to ask my mother when I was small, having already pulled up the apparently offending piece of organic matter from the ground.

Some of the time, my mother wanted it there and was annoyed. Mostly, however, she was just annoyed that he’d pulled it out first. If she had wanted it, it was too late now!

The ‘evil weed’ is a not-so-secret term for cannabis, perhaps a reference to the fact it is illegal and could have various affects on you. The urban dictionary might define the term as a physically weak person, used as an insult particularly among children, based on a perception of a plant that is stringy, small and useless.

Read More »Is everything you want to remove a ‘weed’?

Carbon neutral and the packaging paradox

An English A-level student known to me has frequently asked what’s the difference between an oxymoron, a paradox and irony?

A couple of packaging labels put the question into full perspective. Both companies claim to be carbon neutral – a noble aim in a world more geared towards sustainability than of old. Some businesses are concerned about how far their products travel and how they are made and have been making strides to improve for years or even decades.

Yet their packaging…

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My sweet new babies have arrived – now what?

Experimenting in the garden is all part of the fun – and my new babies have arrived!

A few years ago I had a go at growing a peach tree, or maybe it was a nectarine, in a pot, then planted it when it seemed mature enough.

These were what I bought several relatives for Christmas and are little bullet-sized compact bundles of seeds which, when they sink in and mature, will provide an area of flowers which are lovely by bees, a garden’s favourite pollinators.

This year’s experiment will be sweet potatoes. My wife went on a diet to minimise carbohydrates, calories and starch, so switched from eating potatoes to sweet potatoes. I’m not going to show her that advice I found on the internet which says sweet potatoes are high in calories and starch. What does that sign say in the doctors’ surgery? “Your Google search is no replacement for my seven years at medical school.”

Read More »My sweet new babies have arrived – now what?

It’s time the bell tolled for ‘not currently recycled’

Locally, Clap for Carers has replaced bell practice at St John’s Church as the reminder that it is put the bins out night – Thursday evening. 

This time of the week is the culmination of a weekly battle to decide what sort of plastic can go in the mixed recycling wheelie bin. 

Most of us are well past needing to check the Reigate and Banstead Borough Council for what can be recycled and there is an annual four-page A5 sheet delivered, to give us a handy guide each week if we want to keep it on our fridge or other noticeboard place.

Read More »It’s time the bell tolled for ‘not currently recycled’

Food wrapper litter

Return to offender and tackling repeat litter offenders

Yesterday was Earth Day, the 50th such annual day when we are encouraged to think of our planet.

The official website of the movement says that “on April 22 we flooded the world with hope, optimism and action” about improving the earth’s future, environmentally.

Plenty of organisations took up the theme, including Surfers Against Sewage, based in Cornwall, which campaigns to improve the plight of oceans, particularly in relation to beaches.Read More »Return to offender and tackling repeat litter offenders

Don’t make bonfires the bane of summer – or before

For some reason, the anti-social brigade seem to think it is poignant to set fire to their garden or household waste on the hottest days of the year, when their neighbourhoods are desperate to open every crevice that passes for a window so as to let in some refreshing air.

These miscreants do not do us any favours by waiting until evening, either, when the heat and humidity just hang around, when it lasts longer at a low level. And when the smoke is going we have to close the windows and sweat ourselves to sleep.

Read More »Don’t make bonfires the bane of summer – or before