Last Month, Michael Groom told us that after reaching his personal goal of picking up over 10,000 items of litter, he was looking forward to taking it a little easier. Sadly irresponsible individuals continue to throw away cans, bottles and crisp packets; and to dump much larger items with callous indifference to the consequences for the environment. In just the last month, Michael has picked up over 1,000 items of rubbish...
After what he told us last month, we can only guess at what Michael thinks of this....
While Nick Mortimer has weighed in this month with another horror story - discarded face masks. If you think for just a moment about why we are wearing them, it beggars belief that anyone could casually toss them away, potentially loaded with coronaviruses....yet that is what is happening!
Read below the graph if you want to be (even more) appalled.
Spoiler alert: the dog recovers uneventfully.
Another cracking idea from across the Atlantic
Spotlight thanks Jean Edwards for sharing a splendid seasonal idea with us all. Jean's friend Kathleen is Organist and Choir Mistress at Christ Church, St Simons Island in the sun-drenched Peach State of Georgia, USA. Anyone familiar with our Covid-19 arrangements here at Holy Cross would surely find it easy to sympathise with Kathleen, who felt a little lonely as she contemplated the empty pews and silent choir stalls of Christ Church. Jean tells us that her friend decided to ask her parishioners to form a choir for her....and this is the result!
Readers may remember that back in the spring Grainger and Tracey decided to grow vegetables and fruit in the garden behind the shop. A group of volunteers helped with clearing the ground and produce was grown and sold in the shop this summer. It was then decided to expand this project next year and a “Friends of Sarratt Community Garden” was recently formed. Will Hobhouse agreed to be chairman and Flo agreed to be the Garden Team Leader. Work started on 19 October to clear the ground and prepare it for next year. Thanks to everyone involved for their time, donations of money and equipment. We hope this project will be a big community effort and Flo has written the following Philosophy which we hope everyone will embrace.
This garden has been brought into being with several complementary objectives in mind. We are living in a time of widespread environmental degradation, with pressure on natural resources, a changing climate, and a global loss of biodiversity. At the same time, many people are feeling lonely, disconnected from others and from the earth, and are struggling with their mental as well as physical health. Whilst a small garden behind a village shop can’t possibly make a huge difference, our aim is to do something rather than nothing, and, in doing so, contribute to a wider societal change whilst benefitting the local community.
Growing methods These will be wholly organic, to fit with the sustainable nature of the project. We will not be digging the soil (unless to remove tenacious weeds), with the aim of preserving and enhancing the health of the soil. One teaspoon of soil contains many billions of micro-organisms, including bacteria and fungi, as well as visible organisms such as earthworms, and these will be as much our priority as the above-ground crops. Plants form mutually beneficial relationships with these micro-organisms, so the healthier the soil, the healthier the plants! We will be adding organic matter in the form of leafmould, compost, and manure to ensure that the soil remains fertile, and we will grow green manures in any spaces that are temporarily empty. Making and spreading compost will be a regular job, as will bringing in additional mulches from outside the garden. We will be growing approximately 50% vegetables, 25% fruit, and 25% cut flowers which will be sold through the village shop. Flowers will also be grown specifically with pollinators in mind, and to enhance the beauty of the area for those working there.
Wider Environment This garden will produce the most local fruit, veg and flowers possible! Not only will this cut out many hundreds of food miles, but the food grown will be rich in nutrients that benefit human health ( as soon as a fruit or vegetable is picked, its vitamin levels begin to decrease, so the fresher the produce, the better it is for you). When treated well, not dug, and given carbon rich compost, the soil can become a net ‘sink’ of carbon, sequestering carbon away from the atmosphere and storing it in a stable form (eventually as humus) By prioritizing the health of our soil, we can feel confident that we are contributing a tiny amount towards reducing Sarratt’s sizeable carbon footprint, whilst also creating a fabulously productive environment for plants to grow in.
People It is becoming clear that gardening is not only good for the body, but also good for the soul, and gardening in the company of other people, even more so (for reference, look at Sue Stuart Smith’s book ‘The Well gardened Mind’). This is not a therapeutic garden, but we hope it will be used as a valuable resource by anyone who feels they would benefit. That might be someone who once did a lot in their own garden, but have had to let it go, someone who has never gardened, but would like to try in a place where they will be given guidance , or someone who would like to meet local people and do something for their community. All are welcome. We just ask for honesty, respect for our way of gardening, and respect for others working in the garden.
In addition we hope to create a space where folk can come and chill either on their own – or in groups of family.
For further information about the Community Garden, or to volunteer, please contact:
Alan Milsom (email@example.com), or
Flo Garvey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Many people will have watched the recent excellent BBC series starring Tom Hollander and Saskia Reeves, but what of the novel itself? Published in 2014 it has again been selling in large quantities on the back of the TV show. It is expertly crafted by this brilliant author who also brought us the sad but fulfilling ‘One Day’, which became a popular film starring Anne Hathaway. The screenplay for the ‘Us’ TV series was also created by David Nicholls. The book has one important but inevitable difference from the TV series. Rather than a tale told by the author, it is narrated in the first person, by the main protagonist, Douglas. This means we experience events only from his perspective. We share his despondency at the decade long rift with his son, Albie and also his despair when his wife of over two decades tells him she wants – needs – to leave him. There is great sadness at a bereavement, wonderfully described, but also the book is in parts incredibly funny – more so than in the TV series. Angus is unknowingly humorous, his naïve self analysis often missing the point, leading to even more humour. Most people, lacking money and a passport and arrested by the Spanish police, would be pretty worried about their situation, whereas Douglas just reflects on the policeman’s expensive watch, wondering if he is a scuba diver. In another set piece, trying to impress his family on their ‘grand tour’ of Europe, Douglas is badly injured by an accident with his spicy soup. His inability to understand his own thoughts, actions and words underlies so many of the relationship problems he encounters as husband and father. (His pessimistic personality doesn’t help either – he sees a very dark future for the world, and by extension, a no-hope future for his artistic son. Uncannily he predicts “the statistical inevitability of a global pandemic”!) A difficulty with the book is this – Douglas and his wife Connie have totally opposite personalities. She is artistic, flighty, messy, party- and (earlier) drug- loving, whereas he is a scientist, doggedly logical, lacking self awareness and fiercely loyal to his wife and marriage. He can never really understand why she was drawn to him and we readers may feel the same, and their end seems to be in their beginning. Would they ever have married and if so would they have stayed together for over 20 years, also experiencing incredible heartache at times? The ending of the book better explains the family’s ongoing relationship and brings a warm, reconciled peace. We feel sorry for Douglas but we also understand how he could drive people to distraction. From his description of their past life we understand Connie’s need to ‘escape’. And there is finally satisfying, if a little sentimental, reconciliation all round. As with all of Nicholls’ work this is an absorbing and innovative novel, and should be popular with individual readers and book groups.