Sunday, 29 April 2012

It's going to be hard

In a way, my heart's not in it but I have to ask myself :if I had put myself forward to run for council , how hard would I have worked.

Well now there is a candidate I'd like to see elected - just one - and that is John Lawrence that I've already talked about here.

So in order to get him elected I'm prepared to graft - which for me is to deliver my 'flyer' to all the houses in North Ward. I'm giving over tomorrow Monday to do this and will deliver all I can in the time available.

So I'm writing my intention here so that I actually do it. It's going to be cold and windy - but then the sun will be out! And it's quite fun having an excuse to visit all the houses at close quarters.

Right North Ward - where's that!
*        *        *        *        *        *        *

Here's the text of what my present version says!

Damn, Smiling Smooth-talking Out-of-touch Politicians

I don't know about you but I'm fed up with the choices in front of me. I'm being leafleted by people who really don't have time or interest in talking about the work and concerns of us - the people living here.

Almost all of them want just my vote  .  .  .  .  .         for their party.

Some of them haven't even got much of a clue how the council works.
To be honest what I’d like is independent people who listen, then talk honestly, don’t make vague promises, fight hard and will take a genuine interest in what happens in their ward after they’re voted in.

But few want to listen: will they be interested once elected ?

However if you look closely, one party is different : Labour

They have come up with some policies that are sound good.

So what have been our work and concerns: the little community group in The Gill ?

Mill Damn Park: All the work other than the cutting of the grass has been done by our group. We have made and supplied three picnic tables there. We have planted flowers, bulbs and even now forty Sweet Pea plants are growing up the fence on the right. We have campaigned with the council to have the fencing repaired (successfully it seems). We have rescued a substantial amount of perfectly good  wood and fencing that was removed from the next door sheltered housing and plan to use it to equip the park.

 What have the Previous Conservative Councillors done?

They agreed that the gates are unsafe; one with no latch and both opening out the wrong way yet they have done nothing. In fact when we went to see Tony Naylor, the Parks Officer, he said that our councillor was "out of order" because he was blocking the council helping with our work in the park.

Pottery in Gill Banks, Mill Dam and Church Walk School: They have shown no interest even though international organisations have praised the work done there. They forced us to remove  popular picnic tables from Gill Banks because they attracted young people:  people taking care of the pottery.

The Candlelit Walk: This event attracted 450 this year yet once again no interest or support.

The Flags in the Gill: - now flying- No interest or support from our conservative councillors.

Overall : Of our community work, James Airey, the Tory county councillor, said he wanted to encourage community work and yet he has ignored invitations to view and become informed of our work.

So which people  get my vote? In local elections I always vote for the people: not the party. I’m left with only one person I truly want to vote for: John Lawrence. As for the rest – none are convincing are they? On the bright side Labour have some better policies so we will be able to hold them to task if they don't pursue them vigorously

For the SLDC : Colin Pickthall because of Labour's policies

For the Town Council  - in this order:

John Lawrence : I’ve known since 1975 when manager at Bowater-Scott; a very capable person; now chair of Furness Music Centre, Dalton. Lives here. I’m sure he will work effectively.
Judith Filmore lives here, campaigned hard for local shops (and the Greens ! ! . . !)
Colin Pickthall again

From Geoff Dellow, Union Lane, Gill – a very independent individual who wants the best for the town!
Let’s keep up the pressure and interest in what they do (and don’t do) once they’re elected.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Spring Flags in Ulverston today

Once again it's the Ulverston Flag Flag Fortnight and there are some superb new flags on show.

If you arrive at The Gill Car Park, you're in for a treat.

 First  is the centrepiece display of the new flags shown below

These were featured on the front page of the Evening Mail yesterday with a great picture - the Westmoreland Gazette's photographer comes tomorrow.

Then, as you come into town along Upper Brook Street you will see the superb flags designed and made by Sue Redhead and her team of skilled volunteers.

Here are a couple of them:

This artistic talent is really resetting the bar at a high standard for the art design in the town.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The end of an enjoyable Flag Day

Thanks Everyone.

Great company putting up the Flags.

The operation went like clockwork- all done in 90 minutes.

Saturday morning early the "Spirit of Spring" flags go up in the centre of The Gill.

They will look good - another very satisfying activity.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

There's a bright star on the horizon - make it shine.

John Lawrence has put his name forward for election to our Town Council

- in the hope that he won't get elected because North Ward traditionally votes Conservative .

- Which is what he told me on the phone last night.

Let's prove him wrong and elect him.

I new John back in about 1975 when his wife, Jane mixed with mine in what was "The Housewives Register".

As I understand it, he was the manager at Bowater-Scott where he worked for twenty years. Apparently he then worked for Glaxo, here in Ulverston and then in Montrose. He then returned to Mowings Ulverston in 2008.

He then has got involved with supporting the Furness Music Centre of which he is Chairman of the Trustees.

I suspect that whatever John takes on, he will do really well.

I suggest we ignore party politics and vote on a man that will make a difference.

I'm confident that we in Ulverston won't regret it

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Euro crisis looms even larger

Instability in both France and The Netherlands could well rock the Euro boat.

This will come on top of the problems in Greece, Italy and Spain.

I can't believe that we will ever see our 'loan' of 10 billion to the IMF again.

At some point the Euro is bound to crash. We need to tighten our seat belts. There will be massive financial reprocussions.

Here's the situation in Holland  - that in France is much in the news already.

 Here the suicide of a 77 year old pharmacist shocked the Greek nation:
 Please put up with the ad beforehand.

 Here the Dutch Crisis :

 Here is the view of the Financial times:

 All very sober making reading.

Those of us that have the ability to reflect on what is happening around us - beyond our immediate location and affairs need to strengthen ourselves to deal with the enormous instabilities that lie ahead.

I am deeply disturbed that many very intelligent people lack the maturity to digest what is happening in the wider world. Instead they focus entirely on what is happening in the own homes and the superficial happenings around them - football, television, the Olympics and Facebook.

Even the current local elections offer little more than party posturing, with voters poised to choose based on who can make the glossiest presentation. I can feel the pressure myself.

We all need to develop as well rounded individuals who can operate at different levels at all times.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Sunday, 22 April 2012

What are the issues our local politicians should be tackling ?

The leaflets that I have seen coming through my letterbox seem to promote "Party , Party, Party" with messages that read like "Vote for us because our party is best"

Whereas what I want to hear is "Vote for me, because I'm concerned about Ulverston and I will fight to sort out and support local issues.

Personally I couldn't care less what party a person is in , it is what he/she does and how he/she behaves that is the most important.

Please no cardboard cutouts for me. Here's a guy made of flesh and blood.

Here are some of the issues I want to hear the candidate talking about: the one that I will vote for.

1. The Mismanagement of Car Parking Charges - especially the fact that Stockbridge Lane Car Park is so underused and that the charges are so high that they encourage people to use Supermarkets where parking is free. There are many , many people who believe that the SLDC and the Lib. Dem.s have little to no business sense and do not understand that high charges applied across the board do not lead to higher revenue. These high charges are having a disastrous effect not only on our shops but on our market. Along with this is the need for stricter enforcement of car parking enfringements ( Dog Fouling is a related issue)

2. The Survival of the Thursday and Saturday Markets which have a knock on effect on the visitors using our shops. In other towns like Sedbergh and Lancaster the local councils have made a big effort in working with the stall holders to make conditions that increase business - encouraging and organising coach parties.

3. Helping the Festivals to survive : Dickensian, Lantern Procession and Flag Fortnight are all in a state of crisis - people are having meetings to struggle to find an solution to the Lantern Procession at this very moment - There are two problems one is financial where support from UTC and SLDC (and even CCC), but the main one is bringing people together as a community to work together.

4. The Possibility of another Supermarket.  It is feared that this will put a lot of local shops out of business. The big companies like Tesco and Sainsbury have the economic power to undercut local shops for long periods. Then when the economic climate changes and for instance transport costs become relatively high they will choose to pull out of those towns that are away from the motorways, leaving us to rebuild our commercial supply with businesses with products made locally. It would seem better to encourage locally made/grown products to be sold locally in our own markets. This allows a very flexible business model designed for the individual needs of local communities that could cope better with the difficult times ahead: something large companies cannot do.

6. The financial mismanagement of the provision of local services like our public toilets costing over £400 each to be operated. With The Gill toilet being permanently lit every night even though it is locked up. The fencing around Mill Dam Sheltered Housing being replaced with new (when 90% of the wood was still sound) whilst that around the adjacent park is falling apart. This arose because one department found itself with cash to spend (Housing) whilst another (Parks) had none

5. There is an increasing demand for allotments. At the moment this is the issue with the most UTCouncillors showing and interest , yet there are still substantial problems with plots being neglected so that when finally they do become free they are overgrown with couch grass and perennial weeds, in some cases covered with brambles and in others having no nutrition left in the soil because of bad management which leads to the need to use artificial fertilisers.

6. Harnessing the willingness of the public to want to get involved with cultivating public land in an environmentally friendly and community way. There is of course our work in Mill Dam Park, but the Pound area right next door is ripe for a project. There is another group wanting to develop ecofriendly (wild flowers - a pond etc) ideas in Lightburn Park. We are successfully working at controlling the presence of Himalayan Balsam in Gill Banks. Someone else is working with the parish church at Church Walk. Then of course there is the work at Ford Park. There are others - the herbalist trying to get a garden going.

Sadly I haven't seen anyone that truly impresses me.

I'm waiting for the George Galloway of Ulverston to step forward. Wouldn't it be great to have someone with a bit of fire in his belly and a level of integrity to be fighting our corner?

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A reminder of last year's Flag Fortnight

Matt Cowe's beautiful video

Flags at the Coro:

This year we've made new flags in single colours to contrast the existing ones.

Local Elections

What are your impressions of the candidates for SLDC - six councillors will be elected - and for the Ulverston Town Council - 18 will be elected?

I've approached the SLDC candidates for my ward - North: Helen Irving, Chris Loynes, Colin Williams and Ann Downe, all with the same request to meet them to find out how they propose to support the community work we do in this ward

As you may know we have an active group that does a variety of work in North Ward.

What support would you offer, if elected, regarding our work in Mill Dam Park, the Gill Banks Pottery project, the project to curb the invasive Himalayan Balsam in the Gill river bed, the organisation of the Candlelit Walk and the involvement in the flying of 50 Flags in The Gill during Flag Fortnight which takes place in two weeks time - something our group is working on now?

As you will notice our organisation, the BUGs, has put in a lot of work and money into the park. Over the past three years we have put in all the plants and bulbs and paid for and made three picnic tables. We have done this totally out of our time and pockets, with no grants used.

Rather than being a help, the SLDC Parks Department have tried to restrict our work and not kept promises of helping us with materials to do repairs. The fencing there badly needs repairing and we have been storing wood to do this taken from the replacement of the fencing around the Mill Dam Sheltered Housing which by contrast has been done.

All this will probably take 30 minutes to show you.

Would you be willing to meet in the park so as to show you our work and seek your support should you be elected ?

Ann Downe has already agreed to talk to us.


There is a fair coverage of the above projects on Facebook:

The-Railings, Gill Banks, Ulverston, 

I shall follow up these emails with a phone call to check that they have received them if necessary and will publish their responses.

Friday, 20 April 2012

just the way you are

Now it's your turn - show me what you can do!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I love the sentiment

Is "competent " good enough?

A friend writes:

We also did an evening of Handle and Vivaldi choral pieces at St Martin in the fields - not all great, sadly (programme a bit sameish tempo wise,  not quite enough welly generally for my liking - a bit safe)  but with some good highlights and very competent performance IMNSHO.

A couple of great moments too which is all you can ask for.

Double the choir, double the orchestra, and let rip

 and I would have been in my element.

Someone who likes living their life to the full.

Join the club.

I indend to kill myself  - living.

Coming up soon - I'll be blasting my guts out over this one.

If you're heading for Furness General Hospital

Look forward to it!

A friend of mine has just returned from nearly a week on Ward 2. He had a fantastic time and was full of praise for the staff there. 

He had extensive tests and reported that the staff where brilliant and very caring.

Sad that they are  all getting a negative press.
There are clearly problems but we need to be careful where we put the blame.

The problems seem to be in the way the place is managed and there's still a long way to go with some good specialist staff leaving. The government changes are going to add enormous pressure to existing staff in a system already close to collapse in some areas. All this then needs us to react to what we actually experience and give much needed praise wherever appropriate.

It also needs us to be discerning and being critical and speaking up when things do not run well.

Let's not all be swayed by a press that takes a superficial look and is always looking for :

The Big Story

Which inevitably is a negative one.

A friend and I were saying that it should be required by law that 50% of the news is positive. In reality we all live lives with great people and only meet inconsiderate behaviour a few times a month.
Many of us avoid the 'news' like the plague and can only take it in small doses.
What are people around me doing to be positive?

Making wonderfully colourful flags for Flag Fortnight in a couple of weeks. These should bring a 'lift' to anyone that sees them!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Clarinet April 18th !

Just keep practicing mate!

Ann Downe in the flesh

A big disappointment:

1. We got off to a poor start - she was 25 minutes late - "we were just chatting" - she may not have realised that I was on a tight schedule.

2. She came with the full party machinery intent on promoting their party - four of the Lib. Dem. team with Jane Carson, former SLDC councillor, smiling benignly. She clearly had no time to answer my detailed questions but was intent on pumping hands and being seen by as many potential votes as possible. But not seen long enough to reveal her lack of knowledge of local issues which comes with living in Broughton. Her poorly produced leaflet all about the liberals and not her reflect this approach

I put it to her that she would stand more chance in four year's time as an Independent when she could be free from her party 'entourage'. By that time she could have dcemonstrated her interests in local problems and the action she is willing to take.

Do politicians really believe that they can win votes by just showing their faces? It would appear so.

I am following up with some questions that I shall put to all four candidates with enough time for them to reflect and give their considered answers.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

The people running for my ward - North Ward Ulverston

First in the 'ring' -- Ann Downe the Lim. Dem Cndidate for SLDC.

I phoned her up tonight - out of the blue - and she had time to talk to me.

She is refreshingly honest - I'm not a politician - thank god for that - we may get some honest answers.

She may even say things that aren't politically correct - that will be refreshing.

We talked for about 30 minutes and she gave me quite a bit of information.

I'll write it up tomorrow morning.

Exciting, exciting, exciting

Please hold your breath -

Headline on Breakfast news - Half of Ulverston die in the night of self inflicted asphyxia.

Why - they're mad keen on their politics and tried to wait but couln't manage it.

Reminds me of the Poem and a Pint session last night at Greenodd where one of the poets told stories from the very real land called of Caw - but only the poet herself could go there - it's inside her head.

Next morning is a beautiful one and not one to spend writing blogs but one to be spent on the allotment after a liesurely breakfast - the joys of retirement.

Regarding Ann Downe - may I say I was impressed with her fresh approach and honesty - of the four candidates available, she impresses me most. I hope to meet her on Tuesday.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The Amazing Stan Walmsley

Everyone in Furness should know about him - but sadly they don't because he keeps a low profile and just gets the job done.

He's the guy who has worked every week over the last forty years to make the Dalton Recreation Leisure Centre and New Park, the attractive place it is now.

Not only are the Baths and Leisure Centre financially successful but even Barrow Council, far from supporting it,  are trying to siphon off £10,000 from their funds.

Even Dalton Town Council refuse to support it out of the rates.

This centre only survives and does well because of the unstinting work of their voluntary supporters.

Learn a bit more about this truly amazing organisation:

The Future of the Lantern Procession

If you analyse the problems to do with this event, then many people believe the main one is people like Peter Winston and not money.

The basis for this wonderful event is a feel good community making lanterns. Many of the very creative lanterns are made in people's homes and workshops costing nothing, the materials for each lantern is readily afforded by the people making them. Thus it is the organisation running the event that costs money in a way that can surely be minimised.

The police, whose involvement is very expensive, are ready to pass over the responsibility for the  processions themselves to reliable people who could be volunteers, with the minimal of input from themselves other than to regulate traffic across the A590.

John Fox, of Welfare State International, who was one of the originators of the festival, has commented "The problem can be that these festivals get too big and into the hands people who lose sight of the original objective - a community event". Organisation becomes more important than creative flair.

Is it not time for our creative community to take over again and for power mad people to back off?

We have the potential of excellent guidance from Ness Wilson, of Ulverston Community Arts Network. Facilitators like her are worth their weight in gold . They are the ones that encourage and attract community involvement . These are the kind of people that the town should back with money: they should not be expected to give their valuable talents free.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Clarinet today April 12th 2012

The purpose of these videos will be to chart my progress and persuade myself that I'm improving and perhaps encourage others that learning an instrument is fun.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Interviews with people in Ulverston

There are about 10 - 15 interviews with interesting people who work in the town, to be found on this blog.

Look here

These are found by clicking on interview on the word 'cloud' below on the right

Shooting for the stars!

And why not.

Keeps me busy!

Just had a good 40 min practice and aim to have another later. Some way to go yet!

Let's see where we get to after another 2,000 minutes - say three months!

And now ten minutes of bliss

Can you ever think of the Euro surviving when you have people like this who have found better things to do than slave for money!

The Euro is a nonesense, only dreamt up by the powerful. Long live those that enjoy this kind of thing even if it means living on next to nothing and eating bread wine and cheese!

Sunday, 8 April 2012


The nomination date for the upcoming local elections has now passed - it was mid-day last Wednesday -  and no one asked me to stand as an independent.

Had they done so I would have felt duty bound to stand.

Thankfully, no one did, so I have been let off the hook.

I really hope that there are some independents amongst the candidates. They are the ones that will get my votes even though I am a member of the Green Party.

The candidates for the District Council are annonced on the SLDC web site but  as yet, not those for the Ulverston District Council 

Sadly there are no truly independent candidates for any of our six wards - so it would appear we have non- business as usual. This is in contrast with other parts of the country were it can be rare to have candidates that are not independents. This demonstrates just how uninvolved local people are in their own affairs.

What we have got is one candidate from each of the four parties - Labour, Conservative, Liberal and Greens for each ward with one United Independent Party - not independent at all.

I will give serious thought as to whether I will vote for the Green Party candidates for my ward. Sadly in the past I have not been impressed as in my view they are motivated by wanting to represent the Green Party rather than to get involved with dealing with local problems of which I have found they have scant knowledge. What I will try to assess which candidate really has the interests of the town at heart.

How can you tell? At this stage, I can trust each candidate will try to bluff their way past the electoral finishing post - God help us!

My bid question will be :

Are there any voters that even care enough to vote?

I look forward to asking them what indeed the candidates stand for on some of our immediate problems.

And then decide if they make any sense.

Has anyone (sensible) suggestions as to what questions we should be asking the candidates?

People watching

If you enjoy sitting watching, observing and reflecting, you'll enjoy this:


Filmed and created by "Sim" a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend called Geoff

What I love about this video is: -

The filming from pigeon level.

Some of the panning shots - from Flags to the street below

Some of the contrasts - respectable Burgher to "porno star" - this appeals to my French background - like nuns taking a peek at stripped down hunks of healthy young men

I love the 'feel' of Amsterdam where I get the impression they are far more accepting of people as they really are - such a contrast to the prudish 'Mary Whitehouse' image of the English - something that has echos in my mind of the attitude I met when I went to work here in Ulverston at Church Walk School - "we don't allow that kind of behaviour here" referring to boys playing in a lively manner in the playground. And the message "we know what is best and you'd better conform"referring to my telling a teacher there that I didn't want the children to be 'rescued' but to develop confidence in themselves by 'doing their own thing'. This is the kind of attitude that leads to access to Youtube being banned in most schools - I digress!

The quick spontaneous filming; capturing things of interest as the tram stops.

Well done 'Sim' keep it up. You're encouraging me to put together a video from my filming last time I was in Paris when I was fascinated by 'watching' (and filming) what was going around me 'peoplewise' (what a lovely horrible expression!)

Wise sayings from Jack

I think this one is great - I remember being criticised by my son when he was eighteen and saying to him "I'm only a big kid myself and struggling hard to grow up"

This is at the heart of my disagreement with a few people who give the world the impression that they have reached 'maturity'.

When for God's sake does that ever happen. How boring if it ever did.

Do we all need to wear hat's with the label "Immature big kid" please treate accordingly.

Isn't great to have parts of your personality to refine and develop? Here the opportunity to get close to others and learn from them is so rewarding. Sadly some people become too hurt to take the risk, they live like snails, rarely popping their heads out. How sad that they have been hurt so deeply. They need time to develop trust that situations/people, where it is safe to expose oneself, really do exist.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Random Acts of Kindness

When you're feeling low:

Thank God there are so many people about with a twinkle in their eyes, a sense of mischief and a sense of humour.

Thank You :-

For all the wonderful emails I've received recently, the people I've met in the train who've shared a little of their personal lives, for the neighbour willing to lend me precious tools, the lots of genuine smiles from people of all ages that I meet in the street, the fun I have with families passing my door, the person who offered me a lozenge as I passed them when I had one of my coughing fits in the street, the person that I don't know who called out "Hi Geoff" as I passed their garden,  for the baby who stroked my beard and gave me a grin, Peter who brought me a birthday present of four hen eggs and two beautiful turquoise duck eggs, for another neighbour who works with me for four hours to recover wood because of one of my madcap ideas, the person that is going through a very tough patch who phoned to check how I was, for the lovely sun that shone in my face as I sat back against the fence in the allotment feeling decidedly unwell, for the person who broke into their morning activity to come and fetch me home in the car because I didn't feel I could manage the journey back home on my own.

I love all these "Random Acts of Kindness" - makes up for the very very few situations that sap your spirit.

Isn't it great living in a town full of such friendly people!

Friday, 6 April 2012

School assignment

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
― John Lennon

Passed on by Happy Jack - who else?

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Materials for making Flags

We're back from Bradford were we bought some lovely materials. If you want to get involved let us know.

Sunday, 1 April 2012