Friday, 31 July 2009

I need another dose of this

People who put so much into living give us (me) such a lot of energy to go out and live with the same intensity. Each according to our own abilities.

Thank you Youtube.

Pottery project in The Gill

The notice reads:

This next saturday

august 8th 11 am till 4 pm
join people from the giil
here on site
tables equipment some cover free
weather forecast fair

queries 480347

Everything is dropping into place for next weekend.

A growing number of people are interested.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is changing: at present cooler than today (Friday) but similar weather in the morning with a touch of rain in the afternoon, ! temps in the region of 14 deg C.

So we will be making items for the Gill 'Mural' - to go on the railings (or for Union Lane) - next Saturday 8th August from 11 am until 4 pm. We have tables ready to set up, with some shade, actually near the railings with the necessary basic clay and equipment, at the beginning of Gill Banks - just where the railings start, near the two benches, before the path divides.

There will be no charge unless something is made that is to be fired when the cost is £1 per pound weight to be paid at this time. It is anticipated that objects will be fired in time for the next session which will be a fortnight later when they could be mounted on the railings.

Those involved believe that even if there is a risk of the things they make being lost in any way, it will be worth it. My enjoyment comes from meeting and sharing ideas and making with others. If items survive any time; this is a bonus. My attitude is that something can always be made again and the next time, somewhat different ideas tried out. If damaged; Araldite works wonders!

All items will be movable without leaving any evidence of their mounting on the railings.

Great maintenance work!

Geoff Dellow is full of praise for the work done by the local County Highways maintenance team: both the engineer in charge, Graham Wheelhouse, and the helpful workers who did the job this morning.

They have just replaced a faulty slab (bottom right), not with asphalt as is usual but with a matching slab - the fresh cement will wear off, though a wipe with water would have helped.

Whilst expressing his thanks to the workers in the truck in the background he found that they had been specifically instructed NOT to use asphalt by Graham Wheelhouse the local County Engineer. They were pleased to have been allowed to do a good job and they reported that they had a stash of older matching slabs which management didn't know about . These they used on occasions like this when allowed.

One thing they regretted was they were only allowed to do the work on their worksheet - just two yards further there is a broken slab they would have been happy to replace - a job that would have taken just five more minutes - yet bureaucracy didn't allow them to do the obvious.

"Well at least asphalt hadn't been used this time as is the case a few yards further on."

Question for Graham Wheelhouse:

Is this the beginning of a new policy in repairs?

Why was a matching slab used and not asphalt?

Is it true that he has plans to upgrade the stretch of pavement opposite the Nat West Bank on Queen's Street when bollards are to be inserted to stop parking on the pavement?

If so Geoff Dellow is a very happy guy!

However on reflection Geoff Dellow was perhaps too generous with praise.

Why oh why could the workmen spend five minutes wiping away the cement now we will have a mess for years to come until it wears off.

Some serious supervision problems going on - so nearly there!


Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Pottery mural starts in Gill Banks

The notice reads:


The 'us' , I understand refers to people who live in the Gill.

A few items that have already been made will be added over the next few days to give ideas of what is possible. The theme will be decided by the makers. It could be that that different themes are chosen for different parts of Gill Banks.

Feedback from local people is essential - and sometimes difficult to get!

The beauty of this project is that it is totally removable and taken elsewhere if local people want this!

A major workshop will take place on Saturday 8th August in the afternoon - and perhaps in the morning as well. The location is under debate but could be in Gill Banks itself. Everyone will be welcome.

What do you think?

Assessment of District and County Officers

This list depends of course on my contacts with them. Some have been brief.

Lets start of with an 'order of merit' which will be added to later.

The best first:


  • Paul Martin - very good
  • Debbie Binch
  • Deborah Turner
  • Sue Hodgson
  • Peter Stybelski
  • Jim Smith
  • Dianne Whitehead
  • Nick Raymond - abysmal


  • Richard Hennah (Barrow) - superb
  • Alistair McNeill
  • Kate Kawson
  • Carol Hogg
  • Claire Wheatman
  • Inge Booth
  • Jayne Kendall
  • David Sykes
  • Dick Base
  • Margaret Belk
  • Merrill Tummey
  • Richard Foster
  • Simon Hughes - very poor

Judith Pickthall must be congratulated

It is extremely rare that a Cllr takes the initiative to get something done for the town.

But here is someone who has.

Unlike our Mayor, Norman Bishop-Rowe, who puts the brakes on intiatives, Judith has seen the importance to the town of the two outside markets.

The more the town rescues the initiative on Ulverston matters out of the hands of a failing SLDC and County Council the better.

As people have already pointed out, the issue of the town's parking policy is equally, or even more important and needs removing out of the clutches of both councils.

The scandal of the near empty Stockbridge Lane car park is a blot on our Town Councils lack of initiative in sorting out an extremely important issue.

Well done Judith, now lets take on the Parking problems in the town. The Market needs this sorted.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Dr John Ashton talks a lot of sense

He is Cumbria's public health chief and visiting professor to Cumbria University

An article about his views in the Westmorland Gazette at the weekend is available in a more sensationalised version on-line - why do they do it (shame on you Ian Boydon)?

They report:

" Dr Ashton wants schools and local authorities to collaborate to set up no stopping areas outside the school gates to encourage more pupil exercise.

“We need to discourage the school run,” he said. “Parents should not be able to be allowed to drop their children off outside school, they should have to drop them off about a five-minute walk away to force them to have some exercise.” He also argued for more cycle paths to be built. "

This makes a lot of sense. Not only will the parents be encouraged to get their children to exercise more but in encourages other things.

The children would gain in self esteem by being treated as responsible. In the States, when I lived there, even the Road Crossings were supervised by children as young as ten. Here in this country don't we discourage children to grow up by running around after them. They seem to dictate what they should have - be taken to school, yet if they choose to take off away from home in the evenings, then we let them.

Getting the children to be incharge of getting themselves to schoo; would free up parents to do useful things elsewhere.

I'm reminded of a friend of mine, Irene of Ulverston cooking fame - brought up in Indonesia - who walked nine miles to get to school and that was on top of doing duties around her parents farm. This does the world of good in developing self reliance.

For my part my parents encouraged this kind of thing extensively:

Traveling on my own at the age of eleven from Paris to Birmingham and this was by train and boat.

Being posted on the train across France to the boat by my mother, then train up to London, then the most demanding crossing from Victoria station to Euston by tube to catch the train again to Birmingham where I was met by my father.

During this trip I managed to briefly loose my way on the underground, going the wrong way. But for me I had a fantastic trip on the boat when I was welcomed on to the 'bridge' by the captain and allowed to use the binoculars. I was then allowed to find my way down to the engine room and give the engineer messages of hope we were doing in our 'race' with another boat for the English port. This would be imaginable today.

One thing I'm hoping the poor economy and lack of funds will do is to give us back responsibility for taking care of ourselves - something that has been stolen from us by the attitude of government.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A visit to Grange on Sunday

Made me realise how Grange is leading us in showing how to make the town attractive.

Well painted street furniture - attractive varied and interesting flower beds ; lots of visitors (hundreds) with a real choice of pleases to eat on a Sunday. One gets the impression that this is a place with good decisive leadership . . . . .

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Why I won't shop at Tesco

Here is a repeat of my posting on Jan 27th:

Last night on Hugh Fearnley's TV program we heard about Tesco's disreputable labelling of its chicken products.

Today I read this on a packet of Tesco Express Chicken in Morecambe:

Below a photo of a man outside was the text:

One of our farmers Ernie Wheatley.

Ernie has been rearing chickens on his farm set on the edge of the Derbyshire Dales for over 20 years. He regularly checks his flocks as bird welfare is a priority. This helps him achieve the high standards required by Tesco and Independent Farm Assurance.

From this we can imagine an idyllic scene of happy chickens fluttering across a beautiful fell side.

The reality is this:

Clearly Tesco is misleading us and trying to lull us into a false sense of security.

On the evidence of this, would you not be asking questions about Tesco's humanity?

Or doesn't humanity matter when it comes to money?

Just watch this video and you'll quickly get the picture.

If you are concerned - go to the River Cottage site.

* * * * * * *
Someone posting a comment about Tesco has accused me of calling them a hypocrite.

This has made me stop and think - something that I appreciate.

My reluctant conclusion on reflection is that if you shop at Tesco you are either a hypocrite or deliberately choose not to think about what you do. If you stopped and thought, you would compare the descriptions of the way chickens are reared in the Coop as well - there you would find that chickens are reared more humanely though personally I don't think even this standard is good enough. It's a question of how humans treat animals and what people feel is acceptable - at least the coop method is a step in the right direction.

Having read the information given above and still shop at Tesco then the inescapable conclusion is that " yes, you are a hypocrite".

To test this thought out:

I bet that if I had a flock of chickens in the market square and ran around kicking and mistreating them, bundling them forcibly into crates, then the above shoppers would be the first to shout at me for being so cruel.

If I stamped carelessly on "darling little robins" or as mentioned before kicked out at cats then these shoppers would immediately shout out in outrage.

In the above TV program it was only when a chicken shopper was willing to visit the sheds where they were grown that she decided that she would stop buying them a pay a small amount more for chickens that lived with a little more dignity. Up to that point she was being a hypocrite in having one set of standards but living by another.

Sadly many people don't like facing the truth that they often do act as hypocrites. Join the human race - you're no better than the rest of us.

Face up to it and like yourself for being honest with yourself.

Our country is filling up with people that are becoming depressed because deep down they don't like themselves and are very touchy about being told the truth.

Tesco shoppers : you're hypocrites.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Election coming up soon

The Lib Dems are by far the most impressive party at the moment.

However can we have a candidate that meets up to the standard of Tim Farron next door.

I haven't been impressed with Rabone so can we have someone that we can get behind.

Now is the time for us to be getting to know what our prospective candidates are like and start putting them through their paces.

Can we avoid having to make snap judgements based on what they say at the last minute.

Instead we could test them with what they are doing now.

Anyone fancy putting themselves on the spot. I'm ready to campaign for any person whatever the party but need to know, not only what they say, but what they are doing right now.

My present concerns

In order of priority:
  • Our sense of community and drinking among young people
  • Lack of action from Our Mayor - Norman Bishop-Rowe regarding the MUGA that was promised for Croftlands, this spring and lack of support for the community over the Roxy licensing problems
  • The continued lack of supervision of County Council Departments by our Councillors: first Highways then Waste Disposal and education in Barrow
  • Overspending by the government on defense
  • Our encouragement of abusive behaviour by celebrities
  • The wrong focus in our schools that fails to give young people enthusiasm for life - "There's nothing to do here - so we drink into the early hours . . .
  • The opening of Tesco in Ulverston - hoping the public give these crooks with whitewashed faces, a wide birth
  • The ongoing political scene, not only national but especially locally where inaction is the order of the day
These are weighty subjects and the lack of support from people on this blog leads me to spend my energies with real people who discuss their views in the flesh and are ready to take action of some kind.

Continued anonymous participation pales in comparison with eyecontact and conversations with people in the flesh.

This is the drawback of the present use of the Internet - we end up with a lot of shadowy exchanges that lead nowhere. Forums I've witnessed are depressing places; to be taken in small doses only.

We need more detailed contact with others in order to develop action that is supported.

Soldiering on, on ones own without support seems pointless. This is why the number of postings here have diminished. A lot more satisfaction is gained by contact with people ready to do!

So this is what I'm doing at present: doing with my hands rather than writing what's in my head.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Community project:Up and running!

Find a fence, wall or railing on a street/road that you live in.

A great new group got together in Union Lane to design and make pottery murals this last Saturday. Some of the results will go up this Tuesday!

Very little skill required!

Free workshops at two locations in Town every Saturday afternoon 2 - 5. You pay for the materials and firing at the rate of £1 per pound weight.

Contact me on t - 480 347 or by e -

Coming to a hall and road near you soon!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Entrepreneur of the future

Isn't it great that Ulverston is a place that encourages young people to develop their skills.

And isn't it even more impressive that there are young people that will stand up in public and perform!

Monday, 20 July 2009

The arrogance of humans

Once again our attitude is that we are above nature.

This time it's swine 'flu.

We waste masses of energy and disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives, doing phenomenal psychological damage over something we have very little control over if we're really honest.

I regularly wake up with a sneeze which is quickly dealt with and it's over.

If I was riding into work on the Tube in London, as I used to, can you imagine the kerfuffle there would be, with at least some dirty looks from ignorant people and much more likely, worse.

Would you dare go on holiday by air at the moment if you picked up the mood of the panicky public?

Since when did we lose the freedom to think and make decisions for ourselves. I hope people won't lie on their backs and play doggy dead over this one.

Sanity Rules, OK. ?

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Join us making 'stuff'

Next time : Saturday 1st August at Fell Close Community Centre behind the 'Stan Laurel' Pub at Ellerside - 2 - 5

Follow that !

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Emphasis on people

Many are questioning where we have gone wrong in our society.

It is important to reassess where we go next.

Suggestions are that we've headed downhill with a consumer society that doesn't value people.

Many set their targets based on first earning as much as we can in a short time - this has become the purpose of work. Rewarding contact with other humans has become less important.

Secondly we have a fixation that "cheapest is best". Again the experience of having work and services done for us has a priority that puts contact with others at the bottom of the list. Value for money is paramount. Value for people experience comes very low.

This is why initially in Bowness people switched to Tesco from the Co-op then when they realised they rather liked the people contact at the former, they went back.

We could put more emphasis on the opportunities for mixing with people - real people - not just anonymous people on blogs and forums. There are so many benefits from strong people groups - they lift the spirits.

In some ways people are hard work but because of this they are very rewarding. We all need experiences every day where we take risks and find that we not only cope, but succeed.

This no doubt the reason why I'm spending my time working with many varied groups of people on different projects.

This afternoon it's a new pottery group at the Ellers sheltered housing and people in that area. Tomorrow it's a BIG LUNCH.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Lower Brook Street - job done!

The deadline has past for the county to remove the asphalt and replace the cobbles. Now someone else has done the job.

Looks a lot better in my opinion.

Pity about the mismatch in the colour of the mortar but in time who will notice - which is the main point for removing this County Council eyesore.

Should more be done by locals to preserve what they think is important?

Even though the authorities claim that it is illegal?

Evening Mail wrote a front page story here:

Monday, 13 July 2009

Community pottery project

Some far four people have contributed!

These are ready for placing somewhere.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Prince Charles at the Dimbleby lecture


An impressive lecture last night.

I was stunned by the depth of his insight and how he touched on such a wide range of topics and brought them all together.

Does he pose a significant alternative to the leadership of the country?

Looking forward to reading what the papers have to say.

I hope that they don't just pick on climate change - there was far more in the lecture than that. For me he dealt with a great variety of topics concerning our environment: In particular the loss of our communities.

What will the papers and television think of his views. Will politicians follow his leadership and listen?

What will the general public make of it?

I'll certainly be reading his speech again and hope that others also find his views important.

Well worth the 50 minutes time to watch this program on iPlayer.

The full text is available here.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Two things sadden me

The feeling that we are powerless to do many things that could improve the enjoyment of our lives.

The feeling that nobody really cares.

I guess the explanation is that the things that people see as important are those they have personal control over.

What happens in the wider world over the fence outside our territory is of very little importance to us. Is this because we have no control over this world and thus tend to ignore the possibilities of change because they pose too difficult a problem to even think about?

It's easiest not to even consider getting better facilities for our kids to play in as we can't imagine ever being able to influence a change .

It seems that we've allowed the bureaucrats to take over our freedom. We feel bound to wait until they get round to it and if they don't - we will meekly accept inaction - and wait..... and wait. Finally we'll turn away as waiting is too painful. Don't expect anything important to happen in ones life and then one isn't disappointed.

The feeling that nobody cares also comes from the fact that most people on blogs and forums seek to remain anonymous. This means that the important conversations between people who want to get together, thrash out the details and actually do something never do because they don't know who the others are!

Perhaps blogs and forums aren't the places to stimulate action. This is probably better done with people we stop and chat with in the street or in the pub. But then people have stopped going to the pub in many cases. So most of us don't make contact with others in a meaningful way.

We have wonderful technology in place but haven't the emotional strength to use it!

What the heck - open a can of beer, see what's on tele - oh it's Big Brother - that'll do. . . .


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Doing - here in Ulverston

If one agrees that the problem is with the way the civil servants get entrenched in their views then one way is to open up dialogue with the public.

This could lead to greater job satisfaction as long as the public didn't keep thoughtlessly slagging them off.

One example of this is with the police force. Very few people have a good word for them. Yet I have found that they are a really good set of guys trying to do a very difficult job. Granted there will be some that aren't as enthusiastic as we might expect. But just imagine being in a job when one gets continuous hassle and very little appreciation. Ever since I've given them some appreciation on this blog I've got on well with them and I now regularly get excellent honest 'off the record' communication with them. This is not because I've been easy on them with the things I've said occasionally.

In the long term I find I build really healthy relationships by giving honest reactions to people (this is not seen by most as the way a good politician operates but then I'm trying to be true to myself and not an imitation of someone else). I try to tell people exactly what I think and this is includes giving praise where it is due.

So back to improved communication.

First we have to get the officers to give us truthful answers to our questions. Many avoid contact unless you persist.

Second we could encourage the public to communicate directly with them. At the moment we leave this to our councillors but often they do a very surficial job and are manipulated by the officers. The officers are often laying down policy not the reverse.

The way I've decided to do this is the form smallish very localised groups that come from an identifiable area. Having tried this once I found we got a group of talkers who wanted to sit and dream of what could be done but not actually do much.

So I'm now tackling the group formation differently. Get together a group of doers rather than talkers. This doing can be anything and my interest is pottery. I already run three weekly groups of potters in my workshop and they are great people. Potter of course is a demanding thing to do particularly if one is being creative and trying new things. There are plenty of frustrations when the product isn't up to expectations - it may fail at the first hurdle and crack in half as it dries!

With this practical craft it encourages risk takers and whingers quickly stop coming.

So a new group is being set up in a community centre without the dreaded grants, so people have to pay small amounts for themselves which will ensure that the group continues. Having got one group going it is hoped to form a second and a third in different areas of Ulverston.

Having got doers together, I'm hoping that these people will have views that they want carried out for their areas and one or two will want to represent the group at local government level as independent thinking people. They will gradually learn which officials to contact to get things done and reap the reward of things actually happening.

It's a long term strategy and it will be fun to see what happens. There are other groups of doers amongst us of course - the largest probably are the gardeners with their allotments.

A great scare crow!

So far they are managed by the council but they could claim more ownership of their work and set up independent self help groups. Something I'm just getting to find out about.

So it is to be "doers of Ulverston work together" but not necessarily 'unite' as that implies that they will all want the same thing.

That was a long post - how did you cope.

With my main contact with people through doers, you can perhaps understand my lack of enthusiasm for people who just talk especially in the early hours on their computers. As I've said before I write this for my own benefit - it helps me sort my thinking out and sometimes spot where I'm going wrong!

I sometimes make contact with another doer too!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Gross miscarriages of justice that lead to suicide

All because someone's credit card is stolen:

Indecent child images downloaded using the card.

Police track down the card owner.

Inspite of no other evidence a man is convicted of being a Paedophile.

He loses his job, his friends, his family

and takes his own life.

Are we not too quick to jump to the wrong conclusions sometimes?

" Legal challenge to web child abuse inquiry.

Claim that hundreds were convicted through flawed credit card evidence."

Community pottery project

This is really taking off and I'm hoping that we are evolving a way that will be successful all over Ulverston.

It's very early days but we now have about ten items that can all be put together to form a mural - literally. Pottery on a wall.

It's likely that these items will be appearing on a wall in Union Lane soon after we start a project at Fell Close, the sheltered housing in The Ellers on July 18th with the public invited to join in on August 1st.

Interest in this idea is spreading rapidly - the idea is receiving a lot of approval.

Here is what a small part could look like: -

However the idea is to start with a wall like this

and create a mural with pottery objects like the following:

A large flower -

another large flower and a dragonfly-

a Ladybird -

a sparrow -
a leaf with snake and snail -
butterflies, more leaves and a frog - already made.

Grasses, teasel, hedgehog, another larger snail being made next and other natural objects

This is just the starting theme for this wall . Other themes are of course possible and could convey a local story, with fast cars, motorbikes, people of all ages, gears, spades, machines gadgets, objects of all kinds. These would be decided by the group involved in making them.

The idea is to put them up (without permission) in public places in such a way that they can easily be taken down if anyone objects without a trace being left behind that might suggest that they were ever there.

Railings as well as old walls are also suitabel and even stretches of lawn where thicker versions could be inlaid into the grass.

So the project is in its infancy but is more than just an idea!

There should be something to see up in place by the end of the month!

So there will be less writing here while the motto "Actions speak louder than words" is fulfilled!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Swine 'flu - surprise, surprise

So it's spreading.

And it can't be contained.

Having scared the living daylights out of the public with this epidemic, they now start telling us that it isn't dangerous, and that that drugs won't be used other than in severe cases.

Something we knew at the very beginning.

So, why the massive publicity and expenditure?

A smoke-screen for government failings elsewhere?

More Government dishonesty. When are they going to be straight with us ?

And when are people going to stop listening to political leaders that are trying to score points of the others?

Will the public start to follow those that try to tell us the honest truth even though it's tough and potentially "political suicide"?

Some time in the distant future it will be political suicide to cover up the facts.

How many decades will this take?

Death by a thousand cuts

Temporary Asphalt repairs to Ulverston's streets have become common practice.

Now is the time to say "enough is enough"

Will it be the County Square next?

"Here's another nice mess" may be very appropriate in the future when the County have sent their cowboys in to do "temporary repairs".

When will they ever learn to devolve responsibility back to the town to take care of its own affairs.

The opportunity is there now under the new government Local Area Partnership but will our sleepy councillors rise to take on the responsibility. Not on the present showing - but then we have a new broom in the form of our newly elected County Councillor James Airey. Hopefully he will show some leadership at the next Neighbourhood Forum to be held here at the Coro in Ulverston on July 13th at 7.30pm.

It would be great if lots of people attended so as to get an impetus going towards action in our area.

The agenda for this meeting has just been issued:

South Lakeland District Council has draft proposals to develop council owned land at North Lonsdale Road,
next to Kennedy Street, which includes the depot site. This process will involve extensive public
consultation. It is proposed to include part of the land as an amenity area. If the development does go
ahead, then there is the possibility of plans for a community facility for local people. There is a long way to
go with this process, but Jayne Kendall, Regeneration Programme Manager for South Lakeland District
Council will explain what stage it is at, and what steps come next.

More irresponsible "consultation" with lots of provisos ?

This is an exciting new initiative which will encourage people not only to grow their own food organically, but
also learn how best to cook it – plot to plate. The group has a half acre plot just off the Urswick Road. It is
looking to design the plot in a sustainable low energy way, for example, capturing and storing water,
providing composting toilets etc. Sarah Atkinson from the group will explain more.

……………………………10 minute break for refreshments…………………………….

o Adult education in the Ulverston area
o 511 bus service + 70 bus service
o Multi use games areas
o World Orienteering Championships

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Replacing the cobbles in Lower Brook Street

David Pickthall wrote a very fair article on my outrage at the latest example of poor workmanship from the County Highways Department.

Jim Smith, the top man for Cumbria Highways states that the asphalt repairs of the cobbles in Lower Brook Street done in February 2009, are temporary. I am deeply suspicious when he goes on to say that the replacement of the cobbles is planned for the autumn.

Planned is not the same as "will be completed".

I talked to the lady serving at the shop in Upper Brook Street about the asphalt patch in the doorway of her shop.

It had been done in 2004 when the workmen promised that this was just a temporary repair. She is still waiting for the permanent repair to be scheduled and done.

It is in my opinion less hassle to do the job oneself than try to get the county to do their work.

I have therefore given the Highways two weeks to actually do the job - on or soon after July 13th, I shall do it myself. It's not a big job and well within the capabilities of most "handymen". All support will be much appreciated!