Friday, 31 January 2014

Playing the clarinet this last Thursday

Though this wasn't played a lot, when it was, it was played well and with passion. The response from the public was very encouraging. The whole purpose of doing this is to add a positive atmosphere to the town as people move about on our market days. There were two of us playing, one at each end of Market Street, both pumping out positive music. For me it can be very hard going as I'm battling with age leading to an atrocious memory and with cold fingers. The resulting success and praise helps one to battle on.

Added to this I had a bubbly interview with the owner of Loopy, the 'new' knitting shop at the corner of Union and Market Street where we have a little pocket of very positive, friendly and adventurous shop owners offering a service to customers where their positive attitude rubs off on their customers. A very successful little community has grown here which is a credit to the enterprising spirit here in Ulverston: interview on Youtube coming up when I find the energy.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Someone else that makes me intensely happy

Jan Pienkowski

A picture from The Thousand Nights 

and one Night

I have a copy of this book, full of delightful  and skilfully done artwork. The illustration above bears no comparison to the real thing, one of a hundred illustrations in this superb book. Looking on Abebooks, I found there was another copy for less than £3.50 - there are some more!

Another man that has made my life that much happier:

The authors of the above book give an interview

Happiness continued

Happiness, some believe, spreads in social networks.

Researchers claim that happiness spreads from person to person as you move away from the source. Being close to happy people makes you happy. Thus if you have a friend who in turn has a friend that is happy, you will in turn be 6% happier. Accordingly your happiness will increase by 34% if you have a happy neighbour, by 14% if you have a brother/sister living less than a mile away, by 25% if this is a friend. On the other hand a $5,000 raise in pay (yes we're in the US) will contribute only 2% increase.

Rings true for me: how about you? I love the precise percentage figures but then it is the result of an average - it doesn't tell you the precise scatter. Fancy measuring happiness by percentages anyway! This data is from a very highly regarded organisation:

This research is carried out by The Framingham Heart Study. Wikipedia tells us that it is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular study on residents of the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham, and is now on its third generation of participants.[1]

If this is true there will be some parts of Ulverston that will be 'happy' to live in. James Lovelock's happiness could spread to me and then on to those that live around me. This will happen when we have regular personal contact through chat. This, when we give each other regular 'strokes'that tell others how much we like each other, is best done through direct contact and can't work remotely through the Internet. Personal contact transmits positive emotions so effectively. We bask in other people's warmth.

Having each others art around us where we express our creative individuality is so important. We do it inside our houses with the pictures we put on our walls and with the way we furnish our rooms, the colours and materials we use. In some areas of the town this spreads outside into our streets and neighbourhood. In some areas of the town we have pottery on our fences and walls. It gives us a small 'lift' each time we see it. Even the 'vandals' enjoy it and value it - it remains untouched. We enjoy going to these parts of town.

Yes, happiness travels by personal contact. We have it here in Ulverston. Let's spread it as much as we can - by direct personal contact (and perhaps ditch Facebook - many of my friends have!).

Room on the Broom

A great story by Julia Donaldson

Monday, 27 January 2014

This incredible man makes me happy

James Lovelock, self educated to a very high level in so many different fields of knowledge: he has avoided being like so many of us : becoming an expert. Instead he has been able to look at the future of our planet in a knowledgeable well rounded way, one I greatly admire, and has concluded that the planet is fine but that humans will have no future on it.

The only solution left to humanity now : the burial of carbon in a form that is stable : as Charcoal though possible and practical  will never happen because humans won't work together to implement it.

He still manages to be something that is so difficult when we have no hope. He exudes happiness. Why? As I understand it, this is because he remembers to second world war years when even though people were scared stiff, they were happy together. Happier than in peacetime.

So looking to our future we can start enjoying mutual support at a very basic level.

Being happy in these circumstances won't have anything to do with having money but will rather have to do with having caring people around us. There are plenty of these here in Ulverston. So let's work together and help make Ulverston one of the happiest places in the world.

Apparently being close to happy people makes one happy in turn. Seeing this man's great happiness shown in his very genuine smile makes me happy.

I mix with many people like this in Ulverston they are very 'ordinary' people : there's hope after all.

I'm getting my clarinet out now to practice to play well on Thurdsay in the Market Square. Could be cold, no rain and even a bit of sunshine in the afternoon.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Waking up to this wonderful music

John Rutter is a wonderful modern composer with some beutiful phrasing and harmonies. For me - ignore the religeous references - just think 'natural world' instead.

As for us , we're looking forward to a refreshing blustery walk in mild rain down the canal again with that log fire at the end: 'Heaven'.

Living in a world of contrasts is so invigorating.

It was indeed a bracing walk with lots of outgoing people along the way all saying " Good Morning" very cheerily. We got to the Bay Horse to find that we had the pub and the well established log fire to ourselves at 10:45 - all for the price of two cups of coffee and hot milk for £2:30 served by Marie who was standing in for Joe and was responsible for the hot welcoming  fire. Because the pub was quiet we had the opportunity to chat not only with Marie in french but with Ulverston born and bred Kristina. What a welcome - thank you.

Here's another of Rutter's Anthems:

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Strong people - with hope - the Artic 30

Just received from Alex, one of the Artic 30

Hi Geoff,

I trembled as I walked through the grounds of Murmansk prison on 26 September.

Inmates watched me and the arrival of the other 29 notorious new prisoners through their cell windows. It was pitch black outside, but the prison was alive. Alive with the sound of barking dogs, prison alarms and prisoners shouting through their barred windows.

A guard handed me a plastic mug, a tin steel bowl, a spoon, a folded up mattress and a sheet. That’s all I had, that and a toothbrush and a book in my pocket, when the guards closed the steel green door on me. The sound of the slamming door echoed throughout the corridor. I was alone and afraid.

As days in prison passed I became stronger.  As weeks passed I became hopeful. In prison they take away your freedom, your dignity and your family but they can’t take away hope. That’s the one thing they couldn’t touch and I wouldn’t let them.

I saw my lawyer twice a week. During those visits he would pass on news, news that helped me understand how big our case was. He may have been pretty bleak about the Russian legal system but he was always positive about the international attention and support we were receiving. After our visits I would have a skip to my step and I looked forward to passing these bits of gold dust onto my friends. It felt good to pass on hope. It also felt good that we were not alone.

I couldn’t sleep the night before my bail hearing. I was too excited. I had spent the previous night feeling incredibly sad after hearing Colin had been sentenced to an extra three months in prison. Now I was in awe and dumbstruck as I watched the recent turn of events, my friends, one by one, receiving bail on the news.

I went to court feeling pretty hopeful that morning and I waited impatiently as the verdict was finally translated: I had received bail. I laughed in delight and the court room full of reporters and Greenpeace volunteers erupted in applause. Moments later I was jumping up and down hugging my friends Faiza and Anne inside a dark, smokey holding cell.

Since leaving Russia I have been reunited with my family. Seeing them for the first time since prison at St Pancras was very emotional. We hugged, laughed, cried and hugged some more. I have enjoyed the simple but incredibly precious pleasures in life such as taking a walk in the countryside, having a drink with friends and seeing the stars twinkle at night. Now life feels quite strange. It’s definitely quieter as we’re not the focus of so much media attention and the stress of facing seven years in prison has been alleviated.

Thirty of us were locked up following a peaceful protest against the world’s first oil platform to drill in the icy waters of the Arctic. Those 64 days in a prison cell were undoubtedly the hardest days of my life but I have never felt as proud as I did then.

I took action on the Arctic Sunrise because I don’t want a melting Arctic, oil spills in ice and an unlivable planet to be my legacy for my children. I felt the luckiest person on Earth when I stepped on board the Arctic Sunrise back in September because I had been given an opportunity to do something that mattered.

Now, I feel even luckier. Your support means my 29 friends and I are free, your support also means my time in prison wasn’t spent in vain.

Thank you for standing up for me and for the Arctic.

Alex – one of the Arctic 30

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Is this the answer to Cyber Bullying?

I don't think so.

Once again a disraught parent turns to legislation to solve a human communication problem. In this case the problem is Facebook related but to mind one has to look further back and examine what kind of communication is happening within our families. I cannot believe that this kind of bullying isn't happening here in Ulverston if immature (meaning humans that haven't yet developed a high self-esteem that can weather this type of mental onslaught) children and adults for that matter are over reliant on the new types of communication that have become available. We have evolved with very well developped ways of relating to each other through face-to-face eye-to-eye which reads 'body language and facial expression :ways of developing close friendships - ways of developing trust that acts to soak up misunderstanding. Two-way instantaneous messaging between two humans - that starts with a smile - or a scowl.

Any family that allows their children to communicate with others alone - often complete strangers - is asking for trouble. In my experience even relating to other adults in another age group is fraught with problems - which is why I avoid Facebook, email etc unless it is part of a comprehensive and frequent face to face chat.

Here is the letter:

Geoff -

For a period of almost two years, my 14-year-old daughter, Izzy, was bullied. She was tormented at school, in the local community and online via a website called I was trying my best every day to help and support her through it. But on the evening of Tuesday 17th September last year Izzy took her own life.

Izzy had been having a hard time settling into her school, so I agreed that when she turned 13 she could get a Facebook account – I thought it might help her to socialise. Then she asked to join a question and answer website called because “everyone at school was on it”. I’d never heard of it before, but it seemed like harmless fun to me, so I agreed. But it wasn’t harmless at all.
Izzy came to me because she began receiving abuse on her page. She showed me how it worked and I was horrified. It’s a website used predominantly by teenagers that allows users to post comments and remain anonymous. Because of this it has become a notorious platform for cyberbullies.
The nasty comments Izzy received could have been posted by complete strangers, kids at school, or even by grown adults – but we had no way of knowing for sure. She was asked overtly sexual questions and was encouraged to post naked photos online in a game called ‘Body Part for Body Part’. She didn’t and we deleted her account immediately.
But a part of Izzy's fragile self esteem had already been chipped away and she eventually took her own life. That’s why I’ve started a campaign urging David Cameron to help close down or place restrictions on the site. is a Latvian-based website with over 70 million users. It has now been linked to the suicides of 13 teenagers around the world. ChildLine has recently announced an 87% increase in the number of kids seeking help over online bullying in the past year alone. Something needs to be done now.
Bullying is a complicated issue. While I’m not blaming directly for my daughter’s death, she was very distressed by the online harassment and on top of the bullying she was receiving at school, it certainly added to her deep upset.

I’m a single mum and Izzy was my only child. My old life has now gone forever and I’m struggling to make sense of my new one. This petition won’t bring Izzy back. But it will spread awareness about the potential dangers of to parents and teens and could save lives.
I urge you, in Izzy’s memory, to please sign it, share it, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Gabbi Dix

Sign the Petition

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Syrian refugees - an alternative

Just arrived from AVAAZ:

I am from Homs, Syria -- a city under siege, where children and babies have been tortured and bombed. It is hell on earth, and it is hard to have hope, but right now I see a chance and I am urgently calling on everyone to help.

In 24 hours, for the first time ever, all the major powers behind this war are going to meet. All parties say they want to hear the Syrian people's demands, and they want to show their own public they are doing something. So here is how we get 'a seat at the table' -- we set up a live feed from Syrians to get clear demands presented to negotiators at the talks, and a million of us from across the world back the call for a ceasefire.

It has taken a three year bloodbath to get this conference, now we only have hours to be heard. If we come together and build a ceasefire call and then show up boldly on screen and in global numbers at the meeting, we could help bring an end to the carnage. The more of us that join the cry, the more attention we will get, and the more pressure on the parties to respond -- click for a ceasefire in Syria, now:
For too long, the world has dithered while children were slaughtered, tens of thousands disappeared, entire cities bombed to rubble, and 10 million were driven from their homes -- that is the entire population of Greece! Now, finally, the parties are sitting down to talk, but unless we show up with a call for humanity, they could focus on geo-political wrangling, not on real ways to stop the terror.

Let's be clear: this is a war on civilians. The Assad regime has not only dropped chemical weapons on whole communities, it has laid siege to entire regions, like my own, shelling day in and day out and denying the entrance of food. Families in my city are being starved to death while two regional powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, pump weapons and cash to fighters on both sides. These countries have converted a peaceful, popular revolution into a nightmare proxy war hijacked by radicals. My home is now their battlefield and my people the victims. And they will both be at the table on Wednesday.

It is a bitter pill for me to swallow to support negotiations with a regime of war criminals, but if we don't support talks and get them to agree to a ceasefire now, this fighting could go on for a decades. This summit is the only hope on the horizon, and with the right pressure, there is a chance to curb the misery. We urgently need to get started -- click below for a ceasefire now:

I joined the Avaaz team over a year ago, when this community raised funds to send communication equipment to brave Syrian democracy activists. I remember the incredible gratitude I felt for this community of people that made it possible for the world to hear our cry for help. Now I’m asking you to urgently help my fellow Syrians once more to ensure the world understands that the majority of Syrians just want food, and a night without snipers and a plan that could help lead us to peace and democracy.

With hope,

Mais with the Avaaz team

PS - Many Avaaz campaigns are started by members of our community! Start yours now and win on any issue - local, national or global:


Syrians May Allow the Delivery of Some Aid (New York Times)

U.S. and Russia say Syria aid access and local ceasefire possible (Reuters)

Syria crisis: US and Russia discuss possible ceasefires (BBC)

US and Russia call for Syria truce (Al Jazeera)

Syria peace talks: Russia and US lay groundwork for Syria (The Guardian)

Syria: dozens die of starvation in Damascus after being ‘denied food’ (The Telegraph)

11,420 Children Dead in Syria’s Civil War, So Far (NPR) just to reiterate what's come to of our morning chat: - seed lists are ready to go -- hit send on 1 and 2 - allocate EU golds bv so they're excluded - wait for bissan's bv so you can exclude from EN chunks - exclude newbies since jan 9just to reiterate what's come to of our morning chat: - seed lists are ready to go -- hit send on 1 and 2 - allocate EU golds bv so they're excluded - wait for bissan's bv so you can exclude from EN chunks - exclude newbies since jan 9

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It's official - on the highest authority

"And they lived happily ever after" is a lie.

Some would be tempted to go even further and state 'Falling in love' is just Western Bunkum and others who have been through the 'experience' would have a certain sympathy with this view. They might say it's just high power sex and wishful thinking with a fair dose of cultural/commercial brainwashing.

To be continued after the break by this aging cynic who has reached a stage in life where he needs his after lunch sleep, especially if he is going to face playing chess until after 11.30pm at the Stan Laurel with any chance of winning.

And thanks to feeling fresh at the pub, he won two games, one against Peter who usually beats him. Both games were won resoundingly so that the opponents just 'through in the towel'. Good for the soul when one is used to losing. Problem now is that my opponents are going to make damn sure it doesn't happen next time - so what tricks can I come up with  - without devoting my life to studying chess - there are more exciting challenges!

The title story WILL resume later!

I am geniunely torn

Very reluctantly I am persuaded that the Conservatives are right in refusing to accept Syrian Refugees but what Britain must in my opinion, do is provide support to those that are in neighbouring countries and bring all pressure to bear for all sides of the conflict to talk to each other and move towards peace.

However by not accepting refugees there is a great danger in developing an attitude of 'out of sight - out of mind'. If we don't take care of these people here, won't it be only too easy to ignore the problem all together.

I'm reminded of the problem of judging when it is wise to jump into a raging cold river to save a child. Sometimes we have to decide that if we did: we ourselves would perish.

Please share your thoughts as how you see this problem. I am truly confused but I worry that we as a country don't think things through and taken on attitudes which are hypocritical. Attitudes that we don't whole heartedly support leading to insincerity and racism.

Is it not true that we in this country need to do more talking so that we come together in united compromise?

Is there not a greater need for us in Ulverston to first learn to all pull together. For this to happen do we need to keep talking and maybe even talk more?

What's wrong with us ? asks Monbiot

"Why do we tolerate a politics that offers no effective choice? 

That operates largely at the behest of millionaire funders, corporate power and a bullying media?

Why, in an age in which people are no longer tortured and executed for criticising those in power, have we failed to create viable alternatives?"

Activities at Ford Park

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The National Community Activists Network

Welcome to NatCAN, the National Community Activists' Network.
Join us to get advice and support with anything you're trying to do to make the world, or just your part of it, a better place.

This is special

Try from 3 min if you want some slower fun.

This is truly exceptional playing  and for me very special to listen to!

Some would call it "classical music". Does it matter?

From a reader

This is something we'd all love to learn. With the cheery smiles that we all get as we walk around town - even in the rain - it's difficult to stay glum for more than a few minutes.

Graham at Smith and Harrisons is always good for a laugh. Is he on something. Plenty of banter maybe.

A conversation going up Hoad

In order to get a bit more exercise with a bit of climbing, The Hoad beckoned at the end of the day. I got chatting with one of the regulars who made me sit up and think. With the sight of the disappearing Market we realised one thing we all needed to get behind is for to make sure the Coronation Hall survived. My friend was writing to the school to get them to use the Coro for a special meal instead of travelling to the Netherwood Hotel at Grange. we thought the idea of a top quality cafe´featuring local art and creative activities was essential and that the Coro need to be used in every way possible by all sections of the town.

The question that crossed my mind - without getting an answer: if there was a choice between Ford Park and the Coro: which would it be ? Both will be appealing for our support in the coming year. Can we manage both?

A lovely walk today

Walk the length of the canal, aiming for the welcoming log fire and coffee at the Bay Horse for £2.30 for two cups:

In a similar way to walks over Hoad, the route along this towpath is full of interesting, friendly people many with children and dogs. The two pairs of swans are a great attraction : one has six signets in their care. Last week a rare long tailed duck (black and white) was causing a stir with birdwatchers.

It's special to have a warm welcome to head for at the far end of a gentle walk especially if it's raining gently. We still can't get over there being empty seats in front of the log fire at the Bay Horse, made even more special by the beaming welcome from Joe who keeps the fire stoked up and offers food and drink in a very low key way.

This is one of the friendliest locations to head for in Ulverston on a Sunday afternoon- there are lots (Conishead Priory is another). Isn't it great to have people like this offering to make you feel that this is somewhere you can really look forward to reaching.

A lion with a difference

Turkish artist Selçuk Yılmaz has created an exceptional lion sculpture from almost 4,000 pieces of scrap metal. Titled Aslan (Turkish for Lion), the sculpture took 10 months to complete and weighs roughly 550 pounds (250kg). Selçuk hand-cut and hammered every piece by himself, and metal-work is not easy. “It needs  patience and we have to know pain,” said the artist on DeviantArt.

Pointed out by one of our viewers.

This is indeed a work of dedication : well worth at looking at other photos of the same project in Istanbul, Turkey

Also at the top of the page on this site along with other fascinating projects.

One that particularly appealed to me as I consider old age with a considerable amount of fear was this:

Isa Leshko, a talented photographer from Pennsylvania in the U.S., has found a unique and touching way to explore her own fear of old age and death. For her Elderly Animal project, she set out to take intimate and tender portraits of various domestic and farm animals in the winter years of their lives.

What a beautiful and thoughtful site where creative people express their humanity.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Could Ford Park learn from Dalton?

The Ford Park AGM approaches. Could the trustees of Ford Park learn from Stan Walmsley of Dalton who worked (and still works) so hard to create the Dalton Swimming and Sports facility: now with the extensive playground outside. Few realise that the pool owes its continued success to the work of volunteers who worked extremely hard to get it built in the first place.

Will the people of Dalton still be enjoying the above when Ford Park was a distant dream that nearly happened?

The people of Ulverston could perhaps learn something from watching this couple of videos.

The two approaches are totally different. Dalton refused to access loans or grants so that they never had any debts whereas with Ford Park the accessing of grants is an essential part of their survival. A strong fee paying membership is not seen as essential and can be managed without. This fosters a completely different approach to survival.

Everyone in Furness should know about Stan - but sadly they don't because he keeps a low profile and just gets the job done without much talk.

The story is that he was attending a communal meeting with Dowdales School when the head mentioned that Dalton could really do with a swimming pool of its own. On hearing this Stan's wife kicked him under the table, saying "this is a job for you" or the equivalent. The project was born and happened. You can imagine why when you listen to the way Stan speaks. His voice is full of quiet determination. Having a mountain that needed a tunnel digging through and ten years later and he'd have reached the other side.

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,  have in the past tried to siphon off £10,000 in rates 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:

Thursday, 16 January 2014

It's crunch time at Ford Park

Ford Park Community is having it's AGM this next Tuesday in the Coach House.

I've had a chat with Ali, the newly appointed director and top of her agenda is to create a strong and supportive membership  that can substantially back the charitable trust financially rather than be totally dependent on grants as it is now.

As we all know money doesn't grow on trees which is becoming increasingly true  nationally in the coming months and years. Over the past ten years,  grants and knowing how to access them has been the sole reason for the development of this wonderful facility that is taken for granted by most Ulverstonians, particularly dog walkers. The latter have a very positive influence on the park by their presence at all waking hours of the day. They have detered vandalism and provide a steady stream of friendly people through the park , often on their way up Hoad. But often they don't understand how much they could help with a facility they very much enjoy. We would all be distraught if these open spaces ceased to be available because they had to be sold. If the park is to survive they and we all need to adopt Ford Park as our own.

Sadly few people in the town realise that Ford Park is privately owned - by the trust - with very little support from local government.

Next Tuesday at the AGM there needs to be a total change of emphasis towards every person in the Furness area feeling some ownership of the project. There is no doubt that the hard work of Jackie Williams and supporting cast has achieved something we all enjoy tremendously: the open well maintained fields, the excellent playground, the family activities with its friendly, welcoming kitchen garden, the tastefully designed and decorated meeting room upstairs and now the very successful and imaginative Bistro that provides food and drinks from ten till five every day and superb three course meals at very reasonable prices on at least two evening 'Theme nights'  - Friday and Saturday. Personally we enjoyed one of the most memorable meals in our lives when we had their French Menu a few months back.

Fufino Ferriera is their skilled chef using the quality home grown vegetables produced in their kitchen garden by Sarah McCormack and her voluntary helpers.

Here is the Agenda:

Which will be held on
Tuesday 21st January 2014
In The Coach House at Ford Park, Ulverston at 7.30 p.m.

Do come along and find out more about exciting future developments!


1. Apologies
2. Minutes of the Last AGM
3. Chairperson’s Report
4. Annual Report and Accounts
5. Trustee resignations & retirements
6. Election of Trustees:
7. Election of Officers:
(a)    Chairperson
(b)    Vice Chairperson
(c)    Treasurer
(d)    Secretary
8. Plans for the Future
9. Proposed changes to Membership Cost and Structure
10. Questions & Answers
11. Any Other Business
Copies of the Annual Report and Accounts/ the Chairperson's Report and the minutes of the previous AGM will be available on the night

Rod Demick comes to town

Rod is a lovely , warm, laid-back and experienced singer. He's just a lovely person to spend time with and he doesn't use the dreaded sound blasters that are so in vogue but totally unnecessary in the average pub. We're looking forward to snuggling down in the soft seats and switching off with a good pint - or two.

He'll be singing at the King's Head, Queen's Street, this Saturday 18th Jan at 9pm.

As you gather we're looking forward to listening to him again.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Moving to music is truly special

Here, getting going to start with this last Monday :

See the dedicated web site for more information.

Crap signs are actually crap

The question is: does it actually achieve anything?
Or does it just result in creating conflict and resentment? 
Does threatening a £1,000 fine achieve anything when no one is even reprimanded?

Having walked up Gill Banks twice in recent days - I believe I've some valuable observations to make! You will recollect that this is the much used, enjoyed and complained about path that constitutes the infamous beginning of the Cumbria Way.

The problem is: it is plagued with dog shit left by irresponsible dog owners.

So how do you influence their behaviour?
Do idol threats work?
Or is there an alternative approach?

Hours and hours of official time have been spent by SLDC officers: Councillors time stating something really needs to be done. Residents time along the lines "why don't 'they' do something": we need a bye-law: it's a health hazard: it's a disgrace. If you added all this frustrated time up spent by endless groups of neighbours talking endlessly in little groups and considered the damage to public health that has been endured by those that get worked up about the issue (it's killing off our children with the danger of a vicious disease). Then add to this the pages of newsprint and reporter time spent cashing in on the topic to sell papers.

I now have a wonderful solution to offer:

One I put into effect last Thursday and is working like a dream today, Tuesday when I returned after five days away to find the paths are practically dog shitless after spending 15 minutes of effort the previous Thursday. Solution:

Do it yourself

It was done with a swing. One shit bag and off you go. Pick the shit up and lob the contents, not the bag, into the nearby stream. On to the next dollop - pick up, lob with a swing, - walk, pick up, lob with a swing - etc. Keep going from one end of the path to the other. I could keep up with my fellow walker and cover the ground at great speed - pick up, lob, - walk, pick up, lob. About twenty lots of the stuff - no longer there!

The virtue is it's one of those win- win  situations we all dream about. By the end of my time covering the whole length of the path, I felt good - very virtuous - gentle exercised - stress free - not annoyed - and the clean path looked great in contrast to the mess it had looked before.

Returning today the path was practically spotless - the gentle rain had helped. All for the expenditure of 15 minutes of lobbing shit from one place to the other.

Now - stand back for the criticism:  - "You can't do that : the bagged shit has to go in the bins" - How ridiculous is that?

Now, for the ease of achievement this is the solution for me - and it works. Total success - stress, frustration and annoyance free.

It supports the theory that rules and regulations don't work. That telling people off achieves no change what-so-ever . By contrast it's very 'good feel'  psychology. Try it - Believe it or not - you'll actually enjoy the feeling - it's win-win therapy. We all need it! All that's required is one poobag and a good aim.

One warning - avoid walking on my left: but on my right as I go up the Gill. Could be referred to as walking on the shitward - not pleasant.

It's important to buy British

It's always encouraging to hear a story in which British manufacturers come up trumps.

A friend was in dire need of an important spare part on his essential fuelburning cooker come house heater. Sadly it turned out to be 65 years old - the same age as my friend.

He contacted the manufacturer and was totally amazed - and you can imagine thrilled to bits to hear "Yes we have a spare part". His equipment wouldn't need to be cobbled together to get to work. It would return to "As good as new" status.

The Manufacturer was Rayburn.

At the same time a neighbour was told his model of equipment was out of date when also asking for a spare. Sad - his was four year's old.

Monday, 13 January 2014

A visit from Kendal to support wind turbines

 It was great to have someone from Kendal, visit Ulverston Market Square ten days ago to seek support for a planning application near them.

This is what could happen increasingly in the future where people from all over South Lakeland District get together for a common cause.

In this case Chris Rowley and a colleague set up a stall at the Market Cross to alert people of Ulverston to persuade the two councillors of the planning committee from Ulverston - in particular Cllr Janet Jenkinson - the other one has already given his pledge of support.

Wind turbines are part of the answer to dealing with Britain's energy crisis - we need to generate all we can here in Britain to keep prices down by minimising the expensive gas we import from abroad.

The site for wind turbines needs to be carefully chosen so that it doesn't impinge on the visual amenities of the Lake District. We have the potential of good power generation from our wind so in many ways the Lakes is ideal.

Here is a application that ticks all the boxes in terms of suitability.

Killington is to the East of the M6 Motorway the other side of Kendal. The community are in favour of it and there are already Wind Turbines  in a similar location on the west side of the motorway opposite.

Please write to the planning officer ASAP - well before the application is heard in Kendal on Jan 30th 2014 . Email address is and you can use the following information:

Please also contact Cllr Janet Jenkinson telling her you wish her to back this proposal when it is heard - email :

Dear Mr Shipman,

Killington Wind Farm - Application ref:  SL/2012/0845

I wish to express my support for the Killington wind farm planning application for the following reasons:

    •    Climate change will have a massive impact on farming, tourism and local ecology in South Lakeland and we need to take action now to minimise the impact

    •    The wind farm will produce clean, green electricity for approximately 8,100 homes

    •    We need a domestic source of renewable energy to decrease our reliance on imported fossil fuels and help to tackle rising fuel bills.

    •    The wind farm would offset approx. 14,000 tonnes of CO2 every year

    •    Local suppliers could tender for contracts during the construction phase

    •    The community fund of £27,000 a year will help to deliver a better broadband service for the local area as well as funding other improvements too.

    •    The wind farm will generate additional income for the Killington Charities to support the young and the elderly in Killington Parish.

    •    The Killington site is a suitable location for a wind farm because:

    •    It’s next to a busy motorway
    •    There’s already a wind farm on the other side of the road
    •    It’s outside the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales National Park
    •    It’s identified in the council’s planning guidance
    •    It’s away from built up areas
    •    Local people won’t be affected by noise or construction traffic

Yours sincerely

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Beware of education where the teachers KNOW the answers

You will get students who won't bother to find out for themselves.

You will get grown ups who can't take the responsibility for living their own lives.

You will get students who stop being curious and will believe what they are told

People who won't know what to do in a new situation unless someone else tells them.

People that think in a similar way to others - until they start questioning : when they could start to think for themselves but this they will find very uncomfortable and will instead look for someone else to tell them what to do.

With two faith schools in the town, Ulverston stands less chance of developing forward thinkers at a time when we will need them.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Incredibly positive people

There are some gems in our community that are positve in their whole attitude to life and to other people. They make other people's lives enjoyable because of their giving attitude.

I had a visit from such a person last night.

He walked in with his beaming smile and relaxed rounded body, aged in his early thirties. He come to finish off a piece of pottery he had made two years ago when he was able to find the time to come to our pottery workshop every week and make pottery that was of it's nature very "happy",  much of his work has gone on public display and brings  a smile from strangers whenever they spot it, either in the park , on the railings at Gill Banks or even in the water itself as it flows past below.

This is his piece pottery showing his family that he came to finish:

As you see positive enthusiasm just flows off his fingertips.

Now his circumstances have changed dramatically as he and his wife struggle - and succeed - to enjoy life and add a small spark of cheerfulness to other people's lives as well as their own.

He does twenty hours paid work a week for a charity organisation but because  he feels that he needs to do a good job there  - he actually works for over thirty. Then to make up the shortfall in cash he  works more on a part time basis for commercial organisation. His wife works for another charity helping youngsters that have fallen foul of the school's system (and been booted out) to help them get a qualification and have the possibility of employment by the time they reach 18.

They have a 2 year old child and a dog which they enjoy walking several times a day. They have been enabled to have a terraced house to rent and possibly buy through one of their parents and have childminding care through local relatives.

They have a juggle getting by these days but with people support coming from every direction: they manage. They really enjoy the challenges they meet and have an incredibly fullfilling life with good people interactions from every direction. Result :

An incredibly positive person to all that meet, work with and benefit from his attitude to life.

Isn't it great to find there are people like this all over the Furness Area. We all benefit from them, directly or indirectly which makes the area such a friendly place to live in despite the commercial  doom-and-gloom pressures many of us are experiencing these days.

Bardsea Wood

The Woodland trust manages this beautiful wood near the shore at the far end of Bardsea beach.

This is and ancient wood and as a result supports a very wide variety of habitat , not only plants, flowers, fungi, but birds and small animals. It provides tremendous enjoyment to those who enjoy walking in nature and is widely used by Ulverston people and those from a much wider area.

The Woodland trust is seeking support for woods like this that are all across the country in little pockets of land supported by local communities in a similar way to our own.

You will no doubt want to support this campaign:
I'm supporting the Woodland Trust's call on David Cameron for better protection for ancient woodland. Through the actions and policies of his Government, this precious resource continues to be forsaken, sold out and betrayed. But it can be saved, if we see action now.
I thought you might want to take part as well. Here's the link:


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Promoting a fresh approach

We need people who can breath a breath of fresh air into our rather sad world at the moment.

Here is one that impressed me:

The British Treasury: Issue a £2 coin with the face of Edith Cavell on it

By Sioned-Mair Richards

Sign the Petition

This year sees the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. To mark this, HM Treasury will be issuing a new £2 coin with the face of the War Minister, Field Marshall Lord Kitchener.
Lord Kitchener represents all that I have always loathed about the First World War - the jingoism, the sheer waste of men, the "Lions led by Donkeys" mentality.
And then I thought of Edith Cavell, a heroine of my early childhood. The nurse who was executed for giving succour to all wounded soldiers regardless of nationality. The woman who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers in Brussels from all sides without distinction. She and Belgian and French colleagues helped over 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium. She was arrested, tried with 33 others by a German military court, found guilty of ‘assisting men to the enemy’ and shot by a German firing squad on October 12 1915.

"I realise that patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone", these are her last words. She did not want to be remembered as a martyr or a heroine but simply as "a nurse who tried to do her duty". In the year in which we commemorate the First World War she should be honoured by her country as a woman who was one of the best.

If you agree then please sign my petition to the Treasury calling on it to issue a £2 coin remembering her and the very different way in which she saw duty, not just to country but to humankind.

Sign the Petition

Sunday, 5 January 2014


If you're a fighter as I am, when some things happen that make your life less favourable, there's a natural reaction to fight to preserve what you had. However I'm learning that there is another quality that is well worth developing, particularly as one grows older : the ability to absorb pain, digest it, and transform it into being positive.

There are times when it is much more healing to just accept what is happening and be quiet and contemplative of what you've got and enjoy these things. We have a choice as to what we focus on. Choosing to battle all the time is not helpful. The secret is perhaps to be able to distinguish those battles you can win by working with others who are similar minded, and those were you are out on your own and likely to go nowhere. Regrouping, feeding on and enjoying what is going right is so beneficial in the long term if we are to remain proactive people ready to take on a tough world.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

A great reception from the people attending the Coro, on Thursday

So this is what you'd expect. These were quality music lovers after all: attending their favourite Camerata concert of the year - the hall was packed.

Mind you, they were people that up to now had never had the opportunity to dance to classical music other than on their restricting living room floor. They could be people that like me had had to keep themselves under control in a concert hall when listening to stirring well written 'classical' music. A situation where I would want to cry "Unfair, unfair - Why is it the only people allowed to express themselves with feeling were the musicians and in particular the conductor who were 'having a ball' on the stage ? "

Now with Moving to Music at Ford Park, we can all do what we've always wanted to do: 'move/dance' with quality sound, an attractive room and that wonderful facility - lots of   s  p  a  c  e.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Is the news just a form of live entertainment?

Several very sane people I know have been avoiding watching the news for many years now. I've joined them! Yes I still get a national paper - The Independent - but with this I get to choose what I read which is very little. In fact most days I don't watch television, I have too many other priorities, many of which involve real people who live nearby and satisfying projects like exploring playing the clarinet, the allotment and house 'improvements' . This for me is real life - I've had enough of experiencing it through other people.

The other change that is going on in my life - I'm becoming far more of a listener and am developing the skill of getting people I meet to 'open up' and talk about themselves. I used to see other people cross over the road when they saw me coming because I blasted them with enthusiastic 'talk'. Now I do that 'talking' here on this blog and people have the choice of 'listening' only if they want to. In the real world outside I have lots of people that provide me with fascinating interactions that are far more enjoyable than watching bland, action packed 'news'. For me the people down the road provide my tele enjoyment, this is 'news' that I can get involved with and listening has become an important part of that.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

We're all going to have to learn how to remain positive

With many people's lives crashing down so that living becomes, for them, intolerable and all motivation to 'live' is a mere glimmer, we all need to learn how to truly enjoy ourselves (Bertrand Russel prefers the concept of being content- enjoyment reflects the occasional and maybe rare highs) and do more than solely exist.

For the most part this is a mind thing and to do with the kind of friends one has. I realise that it is my caring friends that lift me out of depression - and when I step back most people would say that I have nothing to get depressed about.

Well I do.

And I don't.

It all depends on my 'frame of mind', on my motivation to get on with the life that is available in front of me.

Depression develops when one focuses on what is going wrong. We can change that by focusing on what is going right. If we stop and look at our lives objectively we have a lot going right. This is where to start.

For me the most depressing things come from the way I believe that I am being treated by others. I get depressed because I clearly focus on the wrong people. In fact I am surrounded by many very positive people - it is they that I need to focus on.

I had a fantastic day yesterday - all morning when I ran a project with four children and their parents. We all had a great time. We all 'worked' hard and there was a great sense of achievement, the cost was minimal - probably less than five pounds for the lot, but it was the involvement that made the difference. In the evening I went to the pub and had some great conversations and activities. The sense of genuine warm friendship that came from about fifteen particular people was palpable. This came from dealing with people that had really put themselves out for me for many years now and I for them. We knew we really liked and cared for each other. Drink? I was bought one glass of lovely malt whisky which was all I needed for the three your visit.

So I'll be focusing more and more in the coming year on all the things that are likely to go right and minimising and changing the things that go wrong. Much of this will depend on who I mix with and what challenges I take on. Challenges I must have because it is these that give me my sense of self worth - which is for me the key to feeling positive , whatever hits me.