Invite a tree to tea

Yesterday my Woodland Trust-invite a tree to tea pack arrived in the post. The Woodland Trust is encouraging people to get out and whether it’s having a picnic or a garden party invite a tree along. They have put together a delightful pack of activities available for free from the link. A lovely way to spend a day with kids or enjoy a glass of wine amongst the woods. The woodland trust recognises the need to connect children to nature if they want their work to continue to get support.

In the UK only 13% is covered by tress. This is rather pathetic compared with the average of 37 % in Europe. For a country once covered largely in woods this is devastating in terms of its effects on nature. As a result 60% of animal and plant species have declined in the last 50 years. Theresa May has closed the climate change department, along with the appointment of Andrea (foxes must die) Leadsome to Environment Secretary, shows clearly the environment and conservation is not going to be a priority for the new conservative government. Andrea Leadsome has previously suggested selling off forests. A little ironic from a woman who said she was better to lead as she had a stake in the world for her children. A refusal to accept climate change and looking at how we tackle our fossil fuel reliance will eventually crash our economy. It is incredibly short sighted from Theresa May, but then she possibly isn’t expecting to be re-elected. So more than ever is a time to support the Woodland Trust in their work encouraging people to enjoy trees and wooded areas and protect the little we have.

EDIT: I took action.

I plan to use the Woodland Trusts tree party set with my class to encourage their love of nature and to take care of the trees we have on our school site. We have our end of term reward next week and weather permitting we will get out and have our picnic under one of the trees on the school playing field. Then we can indulge in some of the the games from the pack and maybe go find it.

The set contains a few games to do. There is a leaf ID sheet for the kids to look for the different leaf patterns. There is a nice scavenger hunt with a list of wild objects the children might find (leaves, feathers, dandelion clock etc). Some stickers to show which trees they found. Then some lovely cards to use for photos to change the kids faces to animals.

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Mandela Gardens

On Wednesday I spent an afternoon at Hull Heritage Learning finding out more about their proposed Hull Curriculum. They have put together a set of resources on 20 Hull histories ready for Hulls year as the city of culture. Some wonderfully enthusiastic people leading the way.

The day was hosted in the cities museum quarter with a marque set up in the Mandela gardens. While only a small walled garden they are looking beautiful at this time of year. For those who haven’t ever been it’s a lovely secluded area in the old historic part of the city. You have the museum for William Wilberforce (top rate slave abolisher), the street-life museum (many old vehicles for the young uns to rampage on) and the history museum (giant woolly mammoth and super Roman Mosaics). Best of all it’s all free and I think we have a better collection than the York museum which charges a small fortune for a family day out.

We still have one of the Phillip Larkin toads on display.

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A lovely collection of roses.

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The pond is full of mighty beasts in the depths.

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Gandhi adds an element of calm to the garden.

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Two of the residents at the museum.

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A few of the vehicles on offer in the streetlife museum.

Some more pollen beetles.

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On the way home I tracked down another moth for Amy.

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Beetle update

The darkling beetles started back at day 15 are now reaching maturity and changing from the light brown to black. The children have enjoyed having them in the class immensely.

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On a side note we managed to capture our first photo with Alice smiling. She has been starting to smile the last few weeks, but changes to serious face when the camera is on her.

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And a less cheerful message, but worth watching, from Chris Packham.

Today is sponsored by the letter B

I’m starting today with something for teachers. I received my confirmation that I will be sent a free bulb pack from http://uk.bulbs4kids.com/ Bulbs for kids is encouraging children to get some hands on nature experience planting and growing their own bulbs.

The kit contains:

  • 600 flower bulbs (200 tulips, 100 crocuses, 200 daffodils and 100 grape hyacinths)
  • 35 Bulbs4Kids instruction booklets
  • 1 teacher’s manual
  • 10 gardening trowels
  • 15 plant markers

 

All for free. So if you are a teacher sign up now. Only one set per school, but that is plenty of bulbs to spread between year groups. As I plant different flowers and vegetables each year with my class this is looking great for getting what I need for free. If nothing else I’ll have a collection of trowels for future gardening and sand tray activities.

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Going away from teaching I’ve started to prepare for the big butterfly count. I’ve downloaded the app.It logs location, type of location and then what species of butterflies you’ve sighted. Seems like a good replacement for the void now the Great British Bee Hunt is over.

Now need to brush up on butterflies. Dug out the National Trust butterflies guide and the older E.B. Ford butterflies. My knowledge of butterflies is a bit rusty. I listened to Patrick Barkham’s the butterfly isles last month, so hopefully taking part in the count will build on that knowledge.

And a photo from earlier in the week I spotted another Amy Johnson moth.

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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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