You will find out about all the exciting stuff going on with the RSPB in the east of the UK. We cover our sites in the following counties: Norfolk, Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, and some of our great Lincolnshire ones. So if you are if you have never heard of the Strumpshaws and Snettishams or Stour Estuary or Sutton Fens here is you chance.
I don’t know whether I can write about Remembrance Sunday. As a subject it is so full of meaning and so full of feeling that I wonder if I can do it justice. Yet here I am and here are my words; I only hope that they can do enough.
You see poppies everywhere at this time of year. On the tunic of a glittering Zoe Ball as she tells us, bouncing and beaming, of the winners and losers in this week’s Strictly Come Dancing. Our neighbours wear them, school-teachers wear them and we see them in chaotic boxes on shop counters as we struggle with be-gloved hands to find the right change for a pint of milk.
Everyone one wears them because, my goodness, isn’t that the least that we can do? To take the time to drop a pound in to that shop counter box. The merest of benevolent gestures to remember those people that found themselves, and still find themselves, in the middle of a battlefield.
It’s a very easy thing to do; spend a pound and wear a poppy. What’s not so easy is to examine what lies behind the symbol. To try to imagine the immeasurable bravery of young men and women running to their deaths. Or perhaps they survive but live with the sounds of destruction ringing in their ears. The brutality, the devastation, the sacrifice. The fact that we continue to fight, and lose life upon life in war.
The most important thing to remember however has got to be that those lives cannot be lost in vain. John McCrae wrote in his famous poem In Flanders Fields, ‘To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high.’ So, how can we hold that torch high? In other’s death should we celebrate life? The fact that because of others, we live?
I think we should. And that’s why I will wear a poppy. Because poppies are a celebration of life against all odds. A symbol of growth, colour, vibrancy, existence; the first to appear even on the churned, blooded ground of a battlefield. It is a flower, so often overlooked at other times of the year that provides us with confirmation of endurance; a symbol of what is yet to come and what we should live for.
There are many stories of people turning time and again to nature to prove the worth of life. That even after atrocities, disaster and the finality of death there can be renewal and new life. But is there any symbol more significant, more heartfelt or more abiding than the open-faced blood red heart of the Remembrance Sunday poppy?
In case it has been erased from your memory or you are in desperate denial about the turning of the seasons, there is no escaping that it is bonfire night this weekend!
The sky will be adorned with that healthy orange glow of bonfires and fireworks and we will all be testing out our vocal chords with chimes of oooohs and ahhhhs!
I for one will probably be snuggled up on my sofa with a hot mug of tea, watching from my upstairs window! I know i sound like a lightweight, but it’s the honest truth. But, this time of year, my thoughts always turn to our garden wildlife snuffling around in amongst the foliage, trying to stay out of harm’s way.
image credit Ben Andrew
Sadly, my garden is a tiny patch of inner city charm with very little space for a bonfire. My Dad always had bonfires at our family home and i have lasting memories of us all stood at the bottom of the garden, our feet frozen but our cheeks warm! Hopefully, I will do the same with my own kids one day.
If you are planning a bonfire this weekend then here are some cool tips to keep your garden wildlife safe:
Try to avoid putting your bonfire or fireworks displays near nest boxes, trees or bushes. Although birds are not breeding this time of year, a warm nest box is an appealing option for creatures who simply want to shelter from the weather and get a cosy night’s sleep.
As you gather logs for your bonfire, consider where you pile them so as not to give birds and other wildlife a nasty surprise.Setting off fireworks near nestboxes, trees and bushes is big a no-no. During the hours of darkness these places become roosting sites so loud bangs and flashing lights could unsettle birds and other animals and cause them to move on. Every movement made in the cold weather uses up vital energy supplies, so unnecessary travel to find a quieter home could have a detrimental effect. Keep a look out for hedgehogs, frogs, toads, newts, slow worms, common lizards and grass snakes, who all use log piles to sleep in during winter months. Log piles and leaves are the perfect places for hibernating hedgehogs, amphibians and reptiles and they will usually be buried right at the bottom so it’s best to build your bonfire on the day you plan to light it to ensure no sleepy guests have moved in.Of course, we still want you to have fun this weekend, whether you’re off to a fireworks display or having sparklers in your garden, or like me, simply taking it all in from the comfort of your living room! And it’s super easy to continue helping wildlife even once the bonfire celebrations are over. If you have any unused logs, twigs or leaves piled up in a corner of the garden, they can provide shelter for all sorts of wildlife, including hedgehogs, insects, frogs and toads.
Happy bonfire night everyone!
For more information visit www.rspb.org.uk/hfw
Blogger: Gena Correale-Wardle, Community Fundraising Officer
Beaches. No, I’m not being un-PC and derogatory in a Mexican accent. Neither am I talking about the weepy with Bette Midler. I’m talking about that age-old combination of sand and sea. The thing holiday memories are made of along with the scent of chip grease and vinegar and the crunch of sand in your sandwiches.
I love going to the beach. I love how diverse they are in terms of wildlife and scenery, from dunes and pine forests to soaring cliff faces. But I also like how you know what you’re going to get when you go there. A great experience that is just as brilliant whether you are jumping about in 6ft waves off the US coast dodging jellyfish in your swimsuit, or wrapped up warm watching the gulls as the wind batters you along the Cromer cliffs.
The beach is a magical place. I know how lucky I am to live within half an hour of the sea, especially when my friends from more inland locales visit and the only thing on their ‘to do’ list is a walk along the beach. I go all year through, although winter is my favourite time to go. The feeling of getting wrapped up, putting on a sturdy pair of shoes and going for a walk where you are buffeted by the elements for as long as you can stand is one of my absolute favourite things.
Plus a trip to the coast brings all kinds of wildlife treats and surprises. From a colony of seals with their pups at Horsey, shell hunting at Titchwell Marsh, discovering the Dickensian salt marshes of South Essex, to a washed up whale on Hunstanton beach. Look up and you’ll see all sorts of fabulous seabirds. Look down and you will find all manner of beach booty from shells and driftwood to crab carcases and sea cabbage.
And after a good walk along the beach, your legs aching from navigating the pebbly terrain or the steep cliff climb, you can reward yourself with a cup of tea and a tray of chips! Is there anything better?
Wherever you live, try and make it out to the beach at least once this winter. I promise that it will not only blow out all the cobwebs but it will invigorate your soul to be out there with nature and the elements. Get outdoors, get some sea air in your lungs and be glad that we live on an island with so many miles of amazing coastline.
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