Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
I believe that we can all make a difference – even if it is only in a small way. So, the purpose of my blog is to communicate with others who want to listen and spread the word – as I find it – about what I and others are trying to do to Lesson Our Carbon And Live (LOCAL). This is such an enormous subject, so my blogs will focus on a variety of issues. I hope you find them interesting and helpful in this current climate crisis.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
The idea for this blog came from several things – a love of gardening and yoga, some emails I subscribe to and a film someone recommended to me.
I often like to start with definitions and was surprised at the number of different ones that came up when I searched the word ‘grounded’: ‘well-balanced and sensible’, ‘to be based firmly on something’, ‘sincere, practical’, ‘understand the importance of ordinary things in life’, ‘mentally and emotionally stable’ and ‘to be restricted to your home’. It is not often that you get so many different definitions of one word.
I now wonder whether the reason for my post may also have something to do with us being in lockdown for quite a while – being more or less confined to our homes – grounded – it’s just a thought.
I have been doing quite a bit of gardening and visiting garden centres recently, so the importance of soil and compost has been on my mind. One of the nurseries I visited is tucked away at the back of a house near where I live – what a wonderful find. It is called Making Life Beautiful and the money raised goes towards a local charity.
I have – with a little help – built a compost bin. The SoilAssociation talks about soil being ‘essential to life on earth. it’s declining health spells trouble for everyone’. They provide some great tips on how to look after our soil – open link to see these.
The film recommended to me by a friend is called Down to Earth. You may wish to have a look. It is about a family going on a five year journey and living with tribal communities around the world. The connection of these communities to the Earth is really moving.
Finally, in yoga, grounding is concerned with connecting with the Earth both physically and spiritually. On the physical level it is about particular yoga poses or asanas and working with the Root or base chakra. Spiritually, it is about meditation and chanting mantras, though all are connected in yoga. If you want to practice some of these, I recommend Grounding Yoga – Practice Happy Earth Day and Grounding into Gratitude – Root Chakra Yoga
I hope you have enjoyed reading this grounding blog. The next one will be ‘afloat’!
I am new to blogging and trying to get involved in the ‘community of bloggers’. I saw that crispina kemp had posted about this photo challenge organised by Maria Antonia. As I am interested in photography and feel I need a challenge to get me going I thought I would have a go.
This photo was only taken on my i-phone but the colours of the tree coming into bud makes me feel that ‘Spring is in the air‘ (one of the ideas on the list – most helpful). #2021picoftheweek
Some of you may have seen my previous blog on the history of pubs in Codicote. I gathered a lot of information and took many photographs, so here is another blog about the pubs in Welwyn, Hertfordshire. Welwyn has had human activity since the Stone Age and the first settlement was during the Bronze Age, so there is a lot of history in the village. An important fact about Welwyn village is that it lies on the Great North Road, previously a staging post between London, York and Edinburgh, hence the ‘coaching houses’. The blog will end with the exciting news of a successful bid for a pub as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
What was the first pub in Welwyn?
In the Census of 1911 there were nine pubs listed in Welwyn village, but there have been more. Currently there are six, plus several on the outskirts; The Waggoners and The Red Lion. Some pubs in the village can be dated back as far as medieval times!
The Wellington is a 700 year-old coaching house. It was originally three buildings; The Boar’s Head, a 14th century beer house, The Swan, a 13th century beer house and in the 11th century, a Medieval Hall House. There is a list of licensees since 1325! I was amazed to find this. Samuel Pepys stayed there in the 1600s. In 2009 the pub was tragically gutted by a blaze (I remember this happening) but was restored and re-opened in 2010 as a restaurant and hotel. The oldest photograph I could find was from 1915 though the one on the far left looks older (un-named source).
The White Hart, on the corner as you enter the village from the A1, dates back to 1681. It was the main coaching house in Welwyn. It still has rooms and a really great restaurant as well as a bar. We spent quite a bit of time in the downstairs bar of this pub many years ago as it had a great atmosphere and served good beer! It also had stables (now converted into rooms). Years ago it also served as a courtroom which is now a function room for meetings.
The White Horse in Mill Lane is an 18th century pub now under new management – the Big Smoke Brew Company and is being refurbished – I am looking forward to visiting this lovely old pub in the back streets of Welwyn. It used to have regular music sessions and BBQs in the garden. I couldn’t find any old photos of this lovely pub, but here are a few recent ones.
The other pubs in the village are the Rose and Crown (Star Pubs), The Steamer and the Tavern (both McMullens). The Rose and Crown is a 17th century, Grade 2 listed timber-framed building. It is currently undergoing a big refurbishment as well. The Steamer, previously the Steam Engine, was built in 1861. The Tavern has been a McMullens pub since 1921, although in Pubwiki it was a ‘beer shop’ in 1861! Pubwiki lists many pubs which have existed in the past 200 years.
I have been lucky enough to have bought a share in saving a lovely old pub in Suffolk – Geldeston Locks (see photos below) under this scheme. I hope to be able to visit there soon. Do you know of any pubs in your area which could be ‘rescued’ in this way?
I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog on the pubs in Welwyn as much as I enjoyed taking the photos and doing the research on them!
Walking around our villages and seeing the pubs closed but several being done up
Wondering about the history of our local pubs
Noticing lots of empty beer barrels
Looking forward to a drink in a pub post lockdown
Being involved in saving a pub as a community asset (ACV)
My Mind Maps are becoming a weekly fun activity for me! I hope you like them too.
‘The great British pub is not just a place to drink wine, beer, cider or even … It is a unique social centre, very often the focus of community life in villages, towns and cities …’ . The British pub was ‘invented’ by the Romans when they invaded Britain. They were built along Roman roads to quench the thirst of the invading Roman army (tabernae 43AD) (Ben Johnson – see next link)
I live in Hertfordshire between two villages – Codicote and Welwyn. Codicote is mentioned in the Domesday book (see below). Both villages have very old pubs, but until now I have never explored their history. It is great to have the time to do this sort of thing (now I am retired!).
In Codicote, a favourite pub – The Goat Inn – the building dates back to 1590. It began life as a farmhouse and became a pub in the 18th century. The brewery was formerly Benskins. Now the Goat is ‘the centre of a thriving community and home to the Annual Harvest Festival, The Codicote Community Choir and GoatFest‘ (an expanding annual music festival which began in a lorry in the pub car park!). It also hosts weekly quizzes and an Open Mic night.
When we moved to this area over 30 years ago there was a lovely old pub called the George and Dragon. This was built in the 16th Century, but was a licensed premises in the 14th Century! Prior to that it was a hostel for pilgrims travelling to St Albans Abbey. (Codicote local history society) This became the fabulous Peking restaurant and take-away – ‘As You Like It’, but in 2016 it was redeveloped into housing. You can see the changes over time in the photos below.
The Bell is a large Motel on the edge of the village which is in the process of being redeveloped. It has been private houses, a smithy, pubs, and a horse & cart business over time. The site has a 300 year old history but the present building dates from 1924. As you can see from the sign below, as well as accommodation, it has provided a bar, restaurant and Fish & Chips to the local community in recent times!
There were more!
For quite a small village there were even more pubs! There are several buildings in the High Street which used to be pubs. There was The Plough, The Bull and The Red Lion. Prior to becoming residential houses, these pubs had a variety of uses. It is good to see that signs have been put up by the Heritage Lottery Fund to show where these were.
This blog had intended to explore the history of the pubs in both villages – Codicote and Welwyn – but I hadn’t realised how many there were in just one! So, there will be two blogs instead of one. I hope this has given an insight into the valuable asset that pubs have provided over the years. In my next blog I will be talking about the the excitement of saving pubs as an Asset of Community Value (ACV). I cannot finish this blog without mentioning that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Campaign for Real Ale – CAMRA which started not too far from where I live.
I would love to hear about your local pubs, why you like them and what other services they provide to your community in the comments section below.
Having recently started a weekly blog, I feel I am on a steep learning curve as I never know quite where it is going to take me! I may have a tendency to go off at a tangent, perhaps because of the Mind maps. Although I really like them, in preference to a list (which can be restrictive), they can send me all over the place. But then again, that is also the beauty of them as your mind expands and you can learn about lots of new things. The software is fun to use as well.
On reflection (I like doing that too!) several things have occurred this week which have come together to inspire this blog:
So, after thinking about the topics associated with Urban Gardening (there are so many areas I could have explored – see Mind map above) and watching the documentary, I was keen to find out more about this particular rooftop farm and others that exist; there are many articles, YouTube videos and blogs on this topic! This farm in Paris is the world’s largest. The project aims to be “a global model for sustainable production” (BBC News – see link). There are many advantages to this type of farm which uses vertical farming – see Mind map. These advantages are environmental, social and cultural. However, it is very costly, needs people with knowledge and expertise and of course fundamentally, the particular government and local councils need to be committed to the idea. For a good explanation of the pros and cons see the link. I will not go into detail, as I am no expert, but vertical farming uses techniques such as; hydroponics, use of waste heat, solar photovoltaics, rainwater catchment and evaporative cooling.
The next topic on my growing Mind map that linked to Rooftop Farming was Building Integrated Agriculture (BIA), defined as ‘the practice of locating high performance hydroponic greenhouse farming systems on and in mixed-use buildings to exploit synergies between the built environment and agriculture’. This term was coined by Ted Caplow in 2009. BIA often uses the same techniques as vertical farming – see above. Buildings which produce a lot of waste and excess heat can turn the waste into a resource to support low impact food production.
This is a subject that I am fascinated about – having a drink in a lovely garden overlooking the city, as my son, a Chartered Surveyor, has taken me to some wonderful rooftop bars in London, many of which have gardens (see below). I can’t wait to go again. I hope he is reading this! It is great to see that company he works for are taking the issues of sustainability seriously. See one of their most recent blogs – Top ten sustainability trends to look out for in 2021.
I may have mentioned my Swedish heritage previously. Here are some old photographs of my grandad – Johan Rasmusson – a gardener in Sweden before coming to England to work in the nurseries. I think it runs in the family!
In my searching for information for this blog I have come across some really interesting sites and blogs. As well as the many links in the blog, here are a few which maybe of interest to you:
What is this blog about? The inspiration for my blog this week has been the thought of Lockdown ending and hopefully, on 12th April, many amenities in our villages, towns and cities (in England) opening up again. I am lucky to live between two villages, near a town and not too far from London. Clearly many businesses will have suffered as a result of the pandemic, but many will survive and inevitably there will be change. This blog explores some of the issues about changes in shopping trends, especially during the pandemic, the devastating effect on high streets and how we can help by using our LOCAL amenities and spending LOCALLY. The blog will touch on the changes in land use and how a circular economy might be developed to Lessen Our Carbon And Live.
Planning this blog!
Why am I writing this? I am doing this to inspire us to think about what we can do to support our local communities coming out of Lockdown. To think about how and where we spend our money? Do we want our high streets and communities to return to how they were (unlikely) or would we like to see a shift in thinking and behaviour towards a more sustainable society?
Who is this for? Everyone. Our communities have a special character and culture which, simply put, are made up of the residents and people who work in the area. For a community to thrive it relies on the population, employment, local business/industry and entrepreneurs. People generally want to feel a sense of belonging and be able to meet up with others (we have really missed this). A community needs medical and health services, education and libraries, sports, recreation and fitness facilities as well as all that the high street may offer.
Shopping Even prior to the pandemic people were shopping more online and less in local shops, also going to out of town retail parks. Shopping online has become a global phenomenon; during the past year up by 34.7% from 2019. eCommerce now accounts for more than 30% of retail (It was 18.6% in July 2019). During the pandemic we had a ’Shop Local Week’. Can we keep this going to support our local businesses?
The High Street As a child (I am 64!), I remember the butcher, baker, greengrocer, grocer (I married his son!!) … there were no shopping malls – I remember Brent Cross opening in 1976 (the first shopping mall in the UK) and my mum taking me there for a ‘day out’!! There were no supermarkets that I remember. It was exciting when a boutique – Chelsea Girl – opened in the town, next door to the Wimpy Bar (what a novelty) and HMV – where we spent many hours listening to ‘records’! It was also a high street that had the first cash point in the UK. There was and still is a Department store – how long will this survive?
Over time, some high streets have had a proliferation of banks, building societies, Estate Agents. Others have become full of cafes and restaurants. Between 2015 – 2018 there was growth in accommodation and the food sector and increased employment in pubs and bars. Sadly many high streets have become ‘Charity streets’ with many shops also boarded up. A quick ‘Google’ reveals many articles on the decline of the high street. High streets vary greatly across the country based on the spending power or ‘wealth’ of the population (unless they are a major tourist attraction of course). Retail ranges from 11%-63% depending on the area (ONS link). Of the “Hub” towns, which there are 182, 179 have high streets. These towns are often ‘free-standing’, with a market town heritage and a historically important trading route. I may be naive, but wouldn’t it be great if our high streets could thrive again and have a mixture of uses to meet the needs of their community? The review of high streets by Mary Portas in 2011 made 28 recommendations.
The future – planning changes There are planning changes on the horizon, as from September 2020 some of the Use Classes were amended – the ability to change the use of land. One of the main drivers for this is to encourage the repurposing of buildings on high streets and town centres without restrictive planning permissions. Naturally this is controversial, but I believe the idea is to encourage a wide variety; retail, restaurants, finance, professional, commercial, sport, recreation, fitness, medical and health services, creches, day nurseries .., offices to be ‘interchangeable depending on the market’. However, there are other recent reforms in Permitted Development Rights which allow developers to demolish/repurpose vacant office and industrial buildings and replace with residential and increase upward extension of some properties. This is already having an influence on town centres – watch this space!
The Circular Economy There is much written about this (see ELLEN MACARTHUR Foundation) and a short but clear explanation can be found on a TED talk on YouTube. This is not just about turning a linear economy into a circle, but a complete rethink of how our economy could work to become more sustainable.
Did you know that this week is Food Waste Action Week? I must admit – I didn’t, but found out when researching the topic for this week’s blog. (By the way, I am no expert, but hopefully it will interest many of you). Love Food Hate Waste is a website with some great ideas.
‘30% of global greenhouse gases come from producing our food – we can’t afford to waste it’. About a third of the food is lost or wasted and this contributes to climate change by producing 8-10% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (Source wrap.org.uk). If you would like to read a paper with more statistics and references on this topic see Our World in Data. The WWF talks about some simple steps to reduce the environmental impacts of food waste: plan ahead and buy only what you need, use your freezer, be creative with leftovers, blend, bake or boil, talk it up.
Wicked Leeks discusses why we should reduce food waste. No Time to Waste – is part of a joint campaign with Riverford to help people cut food waste and raise awareness. It mentions about food having a carbon footprint, less food waste helping to combat climate change and food waste being bad for farmers (A short article worth a read). Food Rescue Hubs are ‘an eco-community on a mission to rescue food from landfill’. Have a look at their interesting website in the link and become a #foodrescuehero. Food waste is a massive global, U.K. and local issue. Food Rescue (Source DEFRA, 2018) states that ‘in the UK we produce approximately 7 million tonnes of food waste each year and 5 million tonnes of this is still edible’. The Food Rescue Hub talks about the 6 Rs: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot and Rescue. They have some great tips.
During the pandemic there has been a rise in the use of foodbanks. The Trussell Trust is an organisation which ‘supports a nationwide network of food banks’. Some of you reading this – I know several people – will have donated to or helped at their local foodback during the pandemic or at other times. If you want to find out where your local foodbank is, see the ‘Get help’ section in the above link. Many local foodbanks have groups on FaceBook – do you know if there is one near you? If you know of someone who doesn’t have enough money for food they may be able to get help through an independent food bank, but if not they can ask for a referral through their nearest Citizens Advice.
Another initiative is the setting up of Community larders. These are food clubs offering low cost food which would otherwise be wasted. These can be set up as charities and there is funding available from some councils for this purpose. You may be interested in finding out if there is one in your area. We are planning on setting one up in our community.
I hope that you have found this short blog (and the links) of interest. Please sign up let me know in the comments section. I would be keen to hear what topics you would like me to cover. If you are interested please join my group on Facebook which has the name LOCAL.
I wasn’t sure what theme to have for my blog this week until I listened to Jason Alexander on Times Radio this morning. He was talking about collecting litter and making art with it. Check out his Instagram Rubbish walks. This is something close to my heart as a couple of years ago I started to do something similar – see plogartpat. It is fascinating to see what people do with the rubbish that they collect – especially those who live near the coast.
On our walk this morning – on a public footpath through a private estate, I thought that there wouldn’t be very much litter, but I came home with a bag full – nothing I could make art with though!! It went straight into the recyclying and rubbish bins.
There has been other litter-picking activity in our area this week – see the Welwyn Sustainable Living group on Facebook. They had 20 people turn out to pick up rubbish in the village. This is great to see. Do you have anything like this in your area? If so, it would be good to hear. Perhaps post on the LOCAL Facebook group and we can spread the word.
Although not litter, the other thing on my mind, has been an accumulation of bags that I didn’t know what to do with!! They can be used for food waste and compost, but mine goes straight in. However, people have come forward quickly to say they will have them for their food waste or they can be used by the local Codicote Food bank – maybe an idea for next week’s blog!
I would like to hear how your litter-picking goes and let me know if you find anything unusual.
Several years ago (pre-Greta), I visited a friend, who, for a long time, had composted food waste, re-used plastic bags, shopped local and so on. By the way, did you know that the Swedish inventor of plastic bags did so with the intention of them being re-used to prevent the chopping down of trees for paper bags?!! There’s a thought.
When I visited this friend she took me to a ‘refill’ shop (the first one I had ever seen – since a child when we bought ‘loose broken biscuits’ from my father-in-law’s grocer shop! He also sold loose rice and pulses – I didn’t know that!). This refill shop also sold items to reduce the excess use of plastic and packaging. I was so taken with this idea – it seemed a novelty at the time – not so much now, though I expect that depends on where you live. Do you know where your local refill shop is? We have several near us; the B Green Store, the Refill Pantry and the Replenish Refill Store.
These are my reflections on our time in North Island, New Zealand. My friend Jo, whom I am travelling with (as well as our husbands), is writing an excellent daily blog with photos of our travels. Link here
Another friend of mine commented that holidays can be viewed on many different levels and this is so so true and has given me ideas for this blog. Depending on our interests, whether it be photography, the environment, people, architecture, culture, food and so on, we may present ‘our story’. A country has its own history, cultures and stories too and this makes any comparison with other places almost irrelevant, so if I do this, I apologise!
One of my first impressions of Auckland was the amount of building work going on. There is a ‘building boom’ in hotels, motels, shops, bars and restaurants, especially along the water front. However, I couldn’t help but notice the number of homeless people on the streets (Am I looking for them now?). Homelessness in Auckland has increased by 35% between 2006-2013. There is a lack of social and affordable housing housing in the city (as in many others – now I am making comparisons!). There are colourful workmen everywhere. I took some respite from the city to walk in a lovely park – the Auckland Domain. We had a lovely surprise when our friends Ian and Lizzie met us at our hotel https://skycityauckland.co.nz/ in Auckland.
The majority of towns we have visited in North Island (Rotorura, Napier and Wellington) are built on a linear or grid model and most buildings, are usually only one or two storeys high. This gives the towns (not cities so much), a very different feel to much of Europe (apologies, comparison again). Here is a bit more about housing in NZ (if you ‘accept Wikipedia! ). We have not come across many older buildings on our travels in North Island so far, obviously because of its history. However, as you probably know, the Māori people from Polynesia discovered and settled in NZ 700 years ago. We visited a most interesting Māori experience in Rotorua and several excellent exhibitions in the Te Papa museum in Wellington.
I feel I have to write about food – as I love to try different things when on holiday (I didn’t take many food photos though! ). We have had a few lovely meals out in North Island – most examples being fish meals, one with our friends in Patarura – at a local place called the Wooden Farmer and another at The Crab Shack in Wellington. There are a lot of fast-food outlets with an American influence – very difficult to follow a plant-based diet even if I had wanted to! I am sure someone will tell me otherwise!!! I expected to see lots of sheep in NZ, but so far most of the farming appears to be cattle.
I am unsure if there is a significant shift towards towards sustainability in NZ or if there is a bit of greenwashing?. However, renewable energy is significant here. I thought I would see a lot of solar panels on houses, but there are hardly any. Wellington, the Windy City, says that all its electricity will be powered by renewables/wind by 2030. As noted above, there is a significant increase in dairy farming. This is such a complex subject that I won’t go into any more detail here, but I am keeping an eye open for these issues on my travels. There hadn’t been much rain for over two months and it is much needed. Many of the creeks and rivers appear to have dried up.
Finally, the main reason for my wanting to come to NZ was the scenery and I have not been disappointed. From the sea views at the Coromandel Peninsula, the Blue Springs walk in Putaruru to the sunrise in Rotorua it has been fantastic. Hobbiton was set in the most beautiful countryside. We had great sea views from our hotel in Napier and fantastic views from Mount Victoria in Wellington.
My next blog will be about South Island. Watch this space! Thanks for reading.