A new garden

Me and my partner, Amy, are set to move house. While we’re very happy in our current house it just isn’t going to be big enough as Alice gets bigger. Amy has a house in Hornsea, a small seaside town on the North East Coast. It has been rented for the last few years while she was living in Indonesia and then at mine. Her tenant has now moved out and we are set to move next month. We went to check out the house today. I’m excited to get to work on the garden. The flower beds are a bit heavy on the dandelions. It needs a bit of love and attention to encourage a greater variety of wildlife than the mass number of slugs and snails currently.

It already has some lovely flowering bushes. A good collection of roses and a small apple tree.

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The roses are looking good.

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With a bit of love and attention maybe get enough apples for a crumble.

The back is a bit bare currently. We need a rail around the decking for when Alice is walking. A few pot plants will add some colour and get some wildlife closer to the house. I reckon one of the bird feeders can go up this end close to the house so I can see through the windows in the kitchen.

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There are two bays for vegetables at the side of the house, but there pretty shaded. Considering a mud kitchen for Alice.

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Various flowers.

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The shed has been overtaken by a rose currently. Unfortunately we need to replace the shed at some point so it will need cutting back but currently it is festooned with pollen beetles (identified thanks to the 30 days of wild facebook group)

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Being a wet grey day the snails were out in force.

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I’m looking forward to getting to work. We’ve got a good compost heap at the bottom which looks like it has some compost ready at the bottom for me to use. I’d like some trellis to put some more wildlife cover along the edge. The trees need a bit of care to encourage some upward growth. I’d like a small water area somewhere. I don’t want to go for the full pond while Alice is little, but can at least have a small water feature somewhere. I’m hopeful for a greater diversity of birds than my current garden gets. There is a nice passageway behind of hedges, so there is the possibility of hedgehogs or foxes. Within Hornsea there is a mere where bats sly, so may look at getting  a bat box up. A whole new world of wildlife possibilities.

The bee cause

It was good to see some positive news from Friends of the Earth after helping support the bee cause throughout the great British Bee Hunt. A bee also provided one of my favourite photos during 30 days of wild.

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From Friends of the Earth:

Dear Joshua

I can’t wait to tell you this: yesterday, following advice from its own pesticide experts, the Government rejected another application to use banned bee-harming pesticides. This is a huge win for our bees.
 
But while our bees can breathe a sigh of relief now, I’m really concerned about what Brexit means for bees and nature in general. 
 
Join the campaign to protect nature – including bees.

The National Farmers’ Union (which already had a similar request to use neonicotinoid pesticides turned down this year) won’t be too happy about this. Nor the two giant pesticide companies who supported the proposal (no prizes for guessing why).
 
Thanks to your support we were able to pull together a stack of evidence to oppose the application and show that bee-friendly methods of farming without neonics are available.

The use of neonics is currently restricted at a European level, but that could all change outside the EU. And that would be catastrophic for bees.
 
Can you help make sure bees are protected from neonics for good?
 
More and more scientific evidence is showing the threat to bee species and other pollinators like butterflies from neonics. As we figure out what Brexit really means for the UK, one thing we can’t do is let the Government lift the ban on neonics – there’s just no reason to do it.
 
Just this week we heard more great news that Dorset County Council will ban neonics from council-owned land. Another win for bees – and evidence of a growing determination that neonics mustn’t be allowed to threaten our green and pleasant land.
 
Together we can create a future that’s better for our bees.
 
Emi & the bees team

On a separate note the hunt for giant Moths has taken off around Hull to celebrate Amy Johnson.

My first find near my school.

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Strike day

Today I am on strike. As a teacher my career path is being eroded by the conservative government. George Osbourne froze the spending per child in schools meaning in real terms we have taken a cut with inflation. Their push to make all schools academies has been well publicised. The continual push to make the public sector fail to allow for privatisation. They are pushing to allow unqualified teachers replace teachers. I know who I would rather have teach my child. All of there proposals will further lead to further inequality in society. The poor will end up with a poorer quality of education.  Not that the conservatives will care with their children already in private schools, but I believe in education for all. I work in a inner city council estate. The new push to link exam results will put people off working in these areas where you are likely to see lower results. The parents I work for are a lovely bunch, but they don’t have the same money as leafy suburban parents in terms of providing opportunities for their kids. The children get to see more of the world through school opportunities. The cuts will reduce how much can be done. I have known many of the children I teach from birth and want them to have the same opportunities in life as my own daughter. Under Nicky Morgan that won’t happen. As such I am on strike.

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Normally I have marched on strike days, but with a 7 week old colicky baby I am adding what support I can from home. I have added my name to relevant petitions, emailed my MP and I’m adding to blogs. The press does not generally get behind teachers, so we need as much positive press as we can get. Many people are questioning why strike now? The government and press is caught up in Brexit fever. But it is for this reason pressure needs to be put on the government to push education to the fore. With leadership battles going on in both key parties I want to see promises of better education secured. It is time for unions to be strong while the government are weak.

For now I will continue to take solace from our ineffectual government by continuing to enjoy nature. Alice and myself enjoyed watching the secret life of birds with Iolo Williams this morning on netflix. Alice seemed to like the curlews.

Then some reading I can dip in and out of with her naps.

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Trying out apps

Spent the last few days playing around with the pl@nt net app. The plant net app works by you taking a photo then it compares with its database to see what matches. It then brings up a list of what organ you have photographed: leaf, flower, fruit, bark, other. So far just tried flowers and leaves. It seems more confident on flowers than leaves. The app was developed in France and designed with wildlfowers in mind rather than ornamental flowers from the product description. Although so far I’ve found it better with garden flowers than wild flowers.

After playing around for a few days it currently doesn’t seem that great at identifying unless you already have a vague idea of what it is already. However the app is reliant on contributions from users. So in theory it should get better as it is used more, so I will persist to see if it improves over time.

Here are a few of my submissions.

It knew the rose campion.

It identified the fuchsia, but it gave quite a few suggestions before the fuchsia came up. I thought this would be an easy one with the distinctive shape and contrasting shades of pink and purple, but it wasn’t the first suggestion.

It wasn’t sure of this, but neither am I.

The poppy it identified as the first result.

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The woodland trust have created a tree id app which I would like to try. However it is only currently available for apple devices. It is due out for android later in the Summer.

One of my favourite apps from the last month is sadly defunct. The Great British Bee app is now inactive. I did however manage what I reckon has been my most detailed bee photo yet.

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Day 30+1 or -364 days-Staying wild

Well the day after the official end of the  30 days of wild sees me reflecting on the month and the year ahead. Obviously for most people who are involved in nature this is a life long obsession, for all the year, not just a month. For those who are enjoying nature note from this month hopefully they will continue. But for me my social media and blog level will undoubtedly drop from the more intense daily posts. I have loved being part of the Facebook group. My wall has been flooded with beautiful and amazing photos all month. This was a welcome distraction from the news this month. There have been some wonderful heart warming stories of people re-engaging with nature, people tackling depression with exploring nature more, people sharing their super activities with their children. This simple idea from the Wildlife Trust offers so much for so little. While I have bought some new seed, bird food and a trail cam. Most of the positive experiences from 30 days cost nothing, just taking the time to look and appreciate what is there already. So thank you Wildlife Trust.

Looking to the future I have lots of ideas for next year for when Alice is a year old and can start having more involvement with the 30 days.

I am continuing to develop my knowledge of the outside world with a free course on soil.

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/soils

Within my job as a teacher it has made me consider what I want to teach my class. I’ve always placed a high focus on outdoor play, but I want to take this further over the next year. I was put through quite a few forest school training courses when I first qualified, but haven’t used these skills enough, so need to rectify that.

Post EU referendum there are many environmental issues that will need to be addressed ad EU regulations are dropped. So I pledge to continue efforts to keep this world full of natural beauty so my daughter gets to experience it herself.

Looking back on the month I think my highlight has to be watching the foxes. Watching these animals has given me endless joy. I move house next month to Hornsea, a little town on the North East coast. So the next year will see more of exploring coastal nature. I’m also closer to Bempton Cliffs and Flamborough Head, so next year will aim for puffin photos.