Feed the Birds

The days are getting colder and nights longer.  I think it is more important than ever to feed the birds.Birds give an enormous amount of pleasure and watching birds can also be good for our mental health as a study done by Exeter University has discovered.

People in neighbourhoods with more birds in them have better mental health, a study by Exeter University shows, regardless of whether they live in a leafy suburb or busy city.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4258450/Living-near-bird-life-improves-mental-health-says-study.html#ixzz4yxOWzL3e

I am very lucky to have a hawthorne bush/tree near to the  patio and close to the  windows which allows me to see all sorts of British Birds on a regular basis. I have found out by trial and error that sunflower hearts are their favourite food with fat balls and coconut shells.Each year I enjoy taking part in the Big Garden Bird watch. This takes place in January and only demands an hour of your time. The dates for next year are  27 – 29 January 2018. Registration opens 13 December 2017.
Read more at https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch#bMcE58RhsCAzIQyc.99

This year in our garden we have noticed an increase in Blue Tits, Long-Tailed Tits, Goldfinches and Bullfinches and a decline in Greenfinches. I think we must have had Blue Tits, Goldfinches and Long-Tailed Tits raising families close by  because at times the feeders have become very crowded.As I look out of the window whilst writing this I can see four goldfinches, two bullfinches and two house sparrows. One of my favourite visitors are a pair of Nuthatches but I have found these very difficult to photograph.We do have regular visits from squirrels but on the whole they don’t seem to do too much harm. If they stay too long we have to go outside and chase them away.We also get visits from the smallest of British birds the Wren and a couple of Starlings who enjoy the coconuts.

Nature and the Great War

A love of nature and the horror of World War One are not usually thought of as being connected. However having read the book ‘Where Poppies Blow’ by John Lewis-Stempel, I realise there is a connection.

During the war soldiers lived inside nature. There was no escape as they lived and fought in trenches dug out of the earth. There are lots of references to the natural world in the poems written during the war and in letters written home to family members. Many said it was a love of the British countryside that encouraged them to volunteer.

One of these was the poet Edward Thomas. When he was asked why he had volunteered for service in the army, he scooped up a handful of English earth and said, ‘Literally for this.’  He wrote a poem called Adlestrop in 1916. The poem was about what he had seen and how he had felt, when the train he was travelling in stopped at this small station, a few months before the start of war. This is one poem that I can remember learning in school and have always loved it as it paints a clear picture of a moment in time on a hot summer afternoon.

Photograph By John Mann

Adlestrop

Yes.  I remember Adlestrop—
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly.  It was late June.

The steam hissed.  Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop—only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.ºThis poem was written in 1916 about a journey taken in 1914 a few months before the start of the First World War. Edward Thomas was killed in France in April 1917.

Birds of the battlefields gave soldiers a spiritual uplift.
Here is part of a letter home written by Robert Sterling of the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

‘I’ve been longing for some link with the normal universe detached from the storm….I did find such a link about three weeks ago. The enemy had just been shelling our reverse trenches, and a Belgian patrol behind us had been replying, when there fell a few minutes silence; and I still crouching expectantly in the trench, suddenly saw a pair of thrushes building a nest in a ‘bare ruin’d choir’ of a tree, only about five yards behind our line. At the same time a lark began to sing in the sky above the German trenches. It seemed almost incredible at the time, but now, whenever I think of these nest-builders and that all but ‘sightless song’, they seem to repeat in some degree the very essence of the Normal and Unchangeable Universe carrying on unhindered and careless amid the corpses and bullets and the madness.’

Bird watching was a popular hobby and lists were made of, ‘Birds seen on the British front line‘. Again there are many poems which include birds.

To a Skylark Behind Our Trenches
by Captain Edward De Stein

Thou little voice! Thou happy sprite,
How didst thou gain the air and light—
That sing’st so merrily?
How could such little wings
Give thee thy freedom from these dense
And fetid tombs—these burrows whence
We peer like frightened things?
In the free sky
Thou sail’st while here we crawl and creep
And fight and sleep
And die.

How canst thou sing while Nature lies
Bleeding and torn beneath thine eyes,
And the foul breath
Of rank decay hangs like a shroud
Over the fields the shell hath ploughed?
How canst thou sing, so gay and glad,
Whilst all the heavens are filled with death
And all the world is mad?
Yet sing! For at thy song
The tall trees stand up straight and strong
And stretch their twisted arms.
And smoke ascends from pleasant farms
And the shy flowers their odours give.
Once more the riven pastures smile,
And for a while
We live. 

Nature mattered in 1914-1918.

English Flowers in a Foreign Garden  by Lt Will Harvey

Snapdragon, sunflower, sweet-pea,
Flowers which fill the heart of me
With so sweet and bitter fancy:
Glowing rose and pensive pansy,
You that pierce me with a blade
Beat from molten memory.
With what art, how tenderly,
You heal the wounds that you have made!

Thrushes, finches, birds that beat
Magical and thrilling sweet
Little far-off fairy gongs:
Blackbird with your mellow songs,
Valiant robin, thieving sparrows.
Though you wound me as with arrows,
Still with you among these flowers
Surely I find my sweetest hours.

And of course the emblem of the Great War is a wildflower, the Flanders poppy.Red Poppies in the Corn by W. Campbell Galbraith

I’ve seen them in the morning light,
When white mists drifted by:
I’ve seen them in the dusk o’ night
Glow ‘gainst the starry sky.
The slender waving blossoms red,
Mid yellow fields forlorn:
A glory on the scene they shed,
Red Poppies in the Corn.

I’ve seen them, too, those blossoms red,
Show ‘gainst the Trench lines’ screen,
A crimson stream that waved and spread
Thro’ all the brown and green:
I’ve seen them dyed a deeper hue
Than ever nature gave,
Shell-torn from slopes on which they grew,
To cover many a grave.

Bright blossoms fair by nature set
Along the dusty ways,
You cheered us, in the battle’s fret,
Thro’ long and weary days:
You gave us hope: if fate be kind,
We’ll see that longed-for morn,
When home again we march and find
Red Poppies in the Corn.

I have placed a display in St Peter’s Church Belper with more information and I recommend the book, ‘Where Poppies Blow’ as a worthwhile read. To end this blog a couple of quotes from Private J.W. Graystone.

‘The woods looked simply glorious in the morning sun, and all nature was at its best. Fancy a war on in surroundings like this. It seems unthinkable.’
Private J.W. Graystone of his camp at Authie on the Somme.

‘How free nature is and what a call it makes to us in the Army! It makes us feel more and more how much we shall appreciate life when the war is over. No more being cooped up in smoky towns, spending our time in frivolous pleasures. Out into the country for us, but no army.’

The Joy of Autumn

Autumn is such a special season. There is fun to be had walking along kicking the fallen leaves, searching for conkers and brightly coloured berries. The season used to start on September 21st and it can be a bit confusing these days as media weather people start talking about it starting on September 1st. Acording to the Met Office, It depends on whether you are referring to the astronomical or meteorological autumn.There are many poems about Autumn and the first line of a poem by John Keats is one that I find always comes to my mind.

‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.’One of the plants I love is Cow Parsley both when it is in flower and when the flowers are over, the lovely seed heads.I have recently started to crochet and at the moment I am crocheting a cow parsley pattern found on the Silver pebble website designed by Emma Mitchell. It is a free pattern which is fantastic. I have also bought the new book, Making Winter written by Emma. The book has lots of ideas of things to make during the Winter months. I enjoy searching for the different fungi that can be found particularly in ancient woodland.I have sewn my own fungi this year, something I have intended to do for a long time. I used a pattern downloaded from Ann Wood. This pattern is not free but not too expensive and the instructions are really comprehensive. I took a photo of this duck while on an Autumn ramble, not sure what sort of duck but they were enjoying some warm sunshine. I also loved these blackberry flowers but am not sure if they thought the season was Spring rather than Autumn. 

Tomorrow, the film.

Do you believe that climate change is happening? Are you worried about the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere and the air quality in towns and cities around the world? What about the damage that plastics are doing to our world. It can be very easy to feel that there is nothing we can do, the problems are too large and so it is easier to bury our heads in the sand.

There are things we can do and we can change but first we need to understand  the problem.  Last Saturday September 23rd, Amy and Ella came to Belper to talk about their campaign Kids Against Plastic. We also heard form Sue Macfarlane, a local Green party member who is passionate about this issue. Both talks were informative and inspiring and as a family we are more aware of single use plastic and things we can do to limit the plastic in our lives.

There are so many issues and which one to concentrate on? I was very lucky to see the film ‘Tomorrow’ which is a 2015 French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Melanie Laurent. Parts of the film are subtitled but much of it is in English. This film has the distinction of not giving in to catastrophism but optimistically travels to ten countries and gives us examples  of local communities working together to find solutions to environmental and social challenges of the twenty-first century.

There is to be a free showing of the film in Belper on October 27th in St Peters Church, Chesterfield Road, Belper, DE56 1EZ.  Doors open at 7.00 pm for refreshments with the film starting at 7.30pm. This is a really exciting opportunity and it is thanks to Transition Belper and St Peters Parish for making it available to everyone free of charge.So that people can have a better idea of what to expect I have copied and pasted the words below from the films website www.demain-lefilm.com

THE STORY

Showing solutions, telling a feel-good story… this may be the best way to solve the ecological, economical and social crises that our countries are going through. After a special briefing for the journal Nature announced the possible extinction of a part of mankind before the end of the 21st century, Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent, together with a team of four people, carried out an investigation in ten different countries to figure out what may lead to this disaster and above all how to avoid it.

During their journey, they met the pioneers who are re-inventing agriculture, energy, economy, democracy and education. Joining those concrete and positive actions which are already working, they began to figure out what could be tomorrow’s world…

You will find below some of the characters and contributors met by the DEMAIN team during its journey in 10 countries. Among those not mentioned are :

the Detroit urban farming movement ; Incredible Edible in Todmorden (GB) ; Copenhagen citizens and representatives ; Eric Scotto, Akuo Energie CEO ; Guðni Jóhannesson, general manager of the Icelandic National Energy Authority; the Bristol Pound team ; Hervé Dubois, spokesman of the WIR bank in Basel ; Michael Schuman, economist, ;members of BALLE ( Business Alliance fot Local Living Economies); people  of the Kitchenware Revolution in Iceland…

Please ask friends and family along to see the free showing of this truly inspiring film.

Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Padley Gorge is a fantastic almost magical place to visit. It is easy to access from Grindleford Railway Station. You can still get to this Station by train but it is much easier if travelling from Sheffield or Manchester. The train in the photo is going into Totley Tunnel which has a date above the entrance of 1883. It was the longest Railway tunnel in the U.K. up until 1985.Unfortunately it’s not so easy by train from Belper as you need to go to Derby, change to a Sheffield train and then change again for Grindleford. Consequently we travelled by car and luckily found there was plenty of parking on the road down to Grindleford Station. The old station building has been converted into a cafe which came third in the Guardian newspapers list of ten best Station cafes. The food is all homecooked and tea comes in half pints or pints. Continue reading Padley Gorge Derbyshire

Fun Palace at Belper Goes Green

After the success of our first Fun Palace in Belper it was decided to run another at Belper Goes Green. This is a fantastic Eco Festival run by Transition Belper for the local community. All the information about the festival can be found here Belper Goes Green ,this includes what’s on and parking.

The part that I have been responsible for is the Fun Palace Tent. I hope the weather will be good but if not we have lots of fun and informative workshops in the marquee so you will still be dry.The workshops, (as they should be for a Fun Palace) are a mixture of Science, Art, Craft and Nature inspired. There will also be the opportunity to learn CPR with Amber First Responders 

There will be the chance to make a willow bird feeder, a willow wand or do some lolly stick weaving. 

Katherine Wheatley will be making Carbon Monsters and she will be running a competition to win a copy of her very popular book.

There will be lots of Science and Engineering  on offer with the opportunity to make a whirlpool in a bottle, discover what bugs lurk in the local Coppice Brook, make your own mini wind/water wheel, put together an aluminium engine and make a catapult plane or spinning helicopter.

There is also plenty of Art and Craft, you will be able to make a collage of Belper, learn some origami, make a hedgehog, turn milk bottle caps into fridge magnets, make monsters with clay or make your own fairy with pipe cleaners and wool.

The workshops take place each day between 11.00-13.00 and 14.00-16.00. Each session has different activities except the learning of CPR which will be a constant. here is a PDF of the full workshop time table.  Fun Palace Workshops

Here is a map of the site.

Belper Woollen Woods 2017

Its that time of year again when the people of Belper are working hard to produce this years Belper Art Festival. A tremendous amount of planning goes into this event which each year gets bigger and better. Yesterday there was a small crowd who met at Number 28 on the Market Place to produce the festival trailer for 2017. IMG_0039

The part of the festival that I am most involved with is the Woollen Woods. This will be its third year and it is really exciting that both individuals and groups are already planning and working hard on their pieces. The wood is very central to the town of Belper, known as Belper Parks Wood. There is a free carpark beside the Market Place and a way to walk into the woods from there.

So far one of the care homes is getting involved as is a children’s nursery. There are young people who are learning to knit and others who have elaborate plans for complete trees. One of the highlights of last years event was the story trees, who could forget Alice in Wonderland or Noah’s Ark?Alice in tree doormouse Alice Tree animals ark

I know for a fact that this year there will be more of these trees, however this is truly an event that everyone can be part of. Last year we had lots of pom pom animals and spiders webs made from sticks and wool.pom pom ladybird in the woodsIMG_6243

It really doesn’t matter if you are not an expert knitter or crocheter, once everything is place in the woods it all looks fantastic and adds to the magic. Squares and rectangles of knitting can be turned into creatures fit for the woods. This caterpillar was made from a rectangular piece of knitting sewn into a tube and stuffed.IMG_0006

This year the pieces will be installed in the woods on Friday May 12th and will stay there until Sunday May 21st. We have an exciting addition to the Woollen Woods on Saturday May 13th when Lauren an artist and storyteller from Nottingham will be telling stories with the aide of her beautifully made puppets. This will be in Number 28 from 2.30pm. These are tales from Into the Wild Wood and will be suitable for families with primary school age children.IMG_0022

There is still plenty of time to be part of the Belper Art Festival and Woollen Woods. Please contact me at anneclarkhandmade@gmail.com

 

FIGMENT Derby


FIGMENT Derby is set to take place next Saturday August 20th from 12.00 until 5.00pm on Cathedral Green outside Derby Silk Mill Museum.Trees

FIGMENT Derby is to be the first FIGMENT event in Europe so it is not surprising if you have not heard of it. FIGMENT started with an event in New York in July 2007. Since then it has grown significantly each year in the United states and Canada.

Here is a paragraph from the FIGMENT website, ‘FIGMENT’s vision for art looks past the white-walled galleries and into the realm of participation. Art is not just something that you stand still and quietly look at–it is something you participate in. You touch it, smell it, write on it, talk to it, dance with it, play with it, learn from it. Interactive art creates a dynamic collaboration between the artist, the audience and their environment.’

It is a free event for the whole community to join in with and FIGMENT Derby is produced with support from Derby Museums. The event will start with a picnic, (bring your own food), which will take place on a large quilt that has been made by volunteers and visitors at Derby Silk Mill Museum.Quilt2Lots of photos can be seen HERE from previous US FIGMENT events. News about FIGMENT Derby can be found on their Facebook Page  https://www.facebook.com/FIGMENTDerby

I am hoping to yarn Bomb Cathedral Green with the help of the general public. I will be bring along knitted blankets, long wool wraps and knitted flowers that can be attached to the trees. The aim will be to turn the green into a colourful garden.
Bees on tree

photo 2csunflowersThere will also be an opportunity to join in making the longest daisy chain possible. The daises will be constructed from felt and be joined together by the traditional method of daisy chains.

IMG_0675It will also be possible to sit and knit while watching the other activities taking place on the green and it promises to be a fantastic, free, participatory event. Please come and join us.Trees1

Flowers and Animals of the Woollen Woods

This blog, ‘Flowers and Animals of the Woollen Woods’, is a chance to show some of the amazing pieces made by knitters and crocheters for this years Woollen Woods. I have taken so many photographs that it is difficult to choose and there will be some I don’t feature on this blog. Every piece is important however and the people of Belper have loved seeing the woods with the animals, birds and themed trees.

There have been plenty of bugs both large and small. As well as bees, dragonflies and butterflies some very large ants were seen in the trees. There were caterpillars, snails and many spiders webs.ant spider web on twigs catterpillar

The woods were alive with animals even some from the very distant past. Dinosaurs once again roamed but didn’t cause any problems apart from disappearing for a few hours and then being found again. There were a number of very colourful snakes but they stayed in the trees and I am not aware of anyone claiming to have been bitten. There were plenty of pink pigs and a flock of very colourful Belper sheep who really enjoyed climbing the trees.red squirrel red dinosaur green dinosaur hedgehogs snake rabbit pink pigssheepThere were hundreds of amazing flowers many made by Belper Gardening Club. The woods were full of both real and woolly bluebells.flowers2 flowers1 blue bells

We are planning to join in with next years Woollen Woods and as soon as Voluntary Arts Week announce the dates we will let everyone know. I imagine it will be in May 2017. May is also the month of the Belper Arts Festival and so it is a fantastic opportunity for many to join in with that event as well. Keep an eye on this blog and also the Anne Clark Handmade Facebook page to get all the news.

Twitchers were delighted to discover many new species of birds, including a whole variety of day time owls.robin green bird coathanger owl 3 owls

The event takes part in an area of woodland known as Belper Parks Wood which is very central to the town of Belper. It is a lovely area to walk through, climb trees in and even have a picnic.teddy bears