Sorting the climate -step by step.

Where do we start? We want to help with climate change? We have all been made aware of the real threat that it poses. Now it is time to consider ways that each of us can contribute to change.

Pushing for political movement is a start. It is vital, indeed. But we need to look at other ways that everyday members of the public may do our bit to help slow climate change a bit. Lots of raising awareness has happened with protests and the wonderful influence of activists such as Emma Thompson and David Attenborough. We are all very much aware! Let’s act now by making changes to our routines, our choices and especially the way in which we travel.

Small change 1: Getting around

One small thing we can do is think very carefully with regard to our daily travel. On a small scale, something that might help is changing our routine with regard to visits to the local shops and dropping off kids at school. Sometime we get ourselves into such a rush that we feel we must use the car to make these tiny journeys.

Traffic would be so much lighter in urban areas were we all to be a bit more pragmatic. Most journeys to school are less than a mile and a half and so we could be encouraging our kids to walk or cycle to school, preventing a lot of standing vehicles churning out copious amounts of pollutants. Few cars on the local roads would make them safer. Plus, having more people walking gives a greater sense of security. Empty paths feel awkward. Busy paths feel safe.

A few schools have begun preventing cars coming near to their sites before and after school. This is refreshing to see. The gases produced on ignition and whilst vehicles are in slow traffic, is damaging to airways as well as contributing massively to environmental damage. We can do something about this, simple by adapting our timings and making the effort to walk, cycle or scoot.

Studies have suggested that some kids get into the car, switch on mobile devices and arrive at school, unaware of the journey they have taken. It is as if they go from island to island with no interaction with their surroundings. Walking to school wakes up their bodies and minds. The journey can be a social one if they walk with friends. It develops independent thinking skills and promotes geographical alertness. Children become aware of their communities, how to cross roads safely and have time to think about their lives, consider their day ahead and take in the world around them. I have fond memories of walking and cycling to school and loved picking up my friends en route as well as the exercise. It made me feel wide awake and ready to learn when I arrived for registration.

Let me know your thoughts.

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Environmental Truth

Let’s go back to basics.

When I was a geography student at university twenty years ago, the issue of environmental decline was a subject that we were well aware of but hardly ever seemed to make headlines.

I studied environmental transport management as well as environmental change in the biosphere. I was made aware of projections which included sea level rises, mass extinctions of animals and dramatic weather systems. It has been known about but so many people held back and waited for the evidence.

Let’s be honest. We waited. The evidence is now smacking us in the cheeks. We cannot let people undermine this issue. I read some influencers who say that Greta Thunberg is trying to guide policymakers. That is fine with me. She is not inflating the truth. It is unavoidable. The future she describes is visible on the horizon.

Do I need to justify the level of concern? No. We don’t have time to deliberate. We need to start to act and ignore the ridiculous naysayers who seem to think money-making is far more important than saving animals from extinction and protecting coastal towns etc.

Yesterday reports confirmed that the UN is warning people not to buy low-lying homes on the coasts. So many islands have suffered from unusual floods and many have already become partly submerged due to sea level rises. Nuatambu Island is part of the Solomon Islands and has already suffered partial submersion, losing half of its inhabitable lands since 2011. It is just one example and the impact of more floods is already highlighting how this process is increasing in pace.

Ice sheets are melting at a faster rate than before. A well known glacier, Sermilik, in Greenland has depleted by 9m this summer alone. This is upsetting and we know that the thinner the ice gets, the more warming affects the lower layers, especially those covering up land. Less ice also means less reflection of solar energy, contributing further to a general warming of the local climate. This spiral of events now presents with habitat threats for polar bears, seals and penguins as well as other creatures which exist within their food chains.

I intend to continue highlighting and analysing the information which is forthcoming and hope that you will engage with me as I endeavour to find out how we can move forward, support Greta with her cause and spread the word about the facts which surround the utmost significant event of our times. Forget Brexit and Trump. Climate change is dangerous, REAL and undoable. Help us to undo it by joining the debate, emphasising ways we can make a difference and encouraging governments to make environmental policy changes that will stave off climate change.

My Writing Journey: tips for writers.

As I came into publication week for my very first published novella, I thought to myself about how my writing journey has gone so far. It started oddly, spurred on by my fortieth birthday and the realisation that I had not yet written a book, despite it being my only real ambition. I recall my English teacher telling me that I would make a great writer when I was sixteen. I studied English at A-Level and loved playing around with words and language in general. It took me a while to actually get around to putting pen to paper (or fingers to ipad) and get down to that first draft. I know now, no matter how successful I am (or not), I am going to be a writer from now on. I love it!

Process

I began by attending a writing group in my home town. It was lovely to meet other people who wanted to write, either for fun or professionally and I learned a lot every time they shared their work and together we unpicked and celebrated each piece with the tutor. I read out a chapter that I had written, dallying with the idea of growing it into a story one day. They liked it and it seemed to flow, so I carried on writing chapters for a bit. At the same time, I toyed with short stories. The first one was called ‘The Oddest of Dates’ so I kept with this theme and wrote a whole collection of stories about dating, love and loss. This was then published on Amazon as my self-pub debut. I enjoyed the feedback and used no marketing. It was wonderful to see about fifty people buy it and explore my little stories and this made me want to present another chapter from my story to the writing class. Again this was well received and so I carried on writing. I knew it would be a novella as the story was clear and crisp and I had no need to stretch it out for hundreds of pages. The story told itself. Writing that novella was the best experience for me. I was surprised by how the story just flowed and how easy it was to convey.

Editing

Then came the editing. By this time, due to timetabling issues, I had not been able to keep going to the writing group but I was very grateful for my time there. I spent a while going over my story and making tweaks and checking that everything fitted together without timelines clashing. One of my biggest issues was I sometimes forgot who was related to whom and I had to double check I had used the right character names throughout. I remember accidentally writing a letter from a character and not noticing that I had put the same name at the top and bottom of it. Essentially, she had written to herself.

When I was happy, I approached a small publishing firm and they agreed to publish it, if on a relatively small scale. It would be mainly available online as an ebook and paperback (print on demand). After having them format it and edit it before proposing what I wanted the cover art to be like, they came up with a lovely design which brought tears to my eyes.

Now, my book is published and out there awaiting book bloggers to examine it and reviewers to sample it. Fingers crossed you like it.

My top tips for writing are:

1) Get someone to read your chapters one at a time and check for fluidity as well as consistency of characters, times and viewpoint.

2) Leave the manuscript alone for a few weeks after you finish it, before beginning the editing process.

3) While you are writing, build up a good rapport with people from the reading community on social media and ensure you develop your network.

Bag of nerves

As my ebook is published,

I sit by myself,

Wondering if anyone,

Will put it on their kindle shelf.

As my ebook is published,

I bite on my nails,

Thinking what to do next,

Hoping that I don’t fail.

As my ebook is published,

I drink lots of coffee,

Have sleepless nights

And snack on a toffee.

As my ebook is published,

I dream of reviews,

Writing is the future,

That I will now choose.

Kylie – still the Queen

Well last night marked the eighth time that I had seen Kylie live in concert since 2001 and it seemed even more special. The open air venue in Manchester was full of 8000 people and yet felt so intimate. Kylie was radiant and full of energy as usual.

Replicating some of the routines from her record breaking Glastonbury performance and adding some personalised bits, she kept a very enthusiastic crowd satisfied. Some inflatable air- Kylies also made their contribution.

Getting a boy on stage to sing Wild Roses a-cappella was a lovely touch. Kylie did her usual fast costume changes and seemed to feed off of the energy in the brilliant venue, Castlefield Bowl. Manchester was rocking and nearby residents were getting a great view from their balconies. So many were singing along to hits as recent as ‘Dancing’ to more fan pleasing oldies such as ‘The One.’

The night ended with confetti being thrown into the crowd lit by rainbow colours.

If you haven’t managed to get tickets for Kylie summer then consider buying her Number One – Step back in time – collection album.

Toy Story 4 – Review

This is just a brief review of the commercially very successful movie, ‘Toy Story 4’.

I knew there was a buzz about this film and because the Toy Story franchise goes back to the early nineties there is also quite a but of nostalgia. I don’t often see animations these days but this one was very intriguing.

I was glad to discover return of the original cast members and from the word go Tom Hanks, Tim Allan and the gang transported me back into that toy box and immersed me into a believable world where toys really do come to life every time their owner goes out.

The story was cleverly threaded together with the main focus being on a brand new toy which was made by their owner using a spork. Forky was entertaining and enabled Woody to go on adventures to keep him safe and stop him heading for the trash.

Some creepy dolls were trying to steal Woody’s voice box and I actually found then quite scary. The heart of this movie was the close bond between the toys, which was drawn out in a situation involving Bo Peep. You can see what happened for yourself.

Overall, this was Disney magic at its best. Slick. Funny. I would definitely say it is well worth going to watch.

Moving On

Do you have to take your car?

Is your journey really far?

If you are going somewhere close,

Try to walk or cycle those

Journeys that are not so far.

Not every ride involves a car.

Dropping off your kids to school,

Maybe let them walk – it’s cool!

Going to the local store,

A brisk walk would give you more…

Fitness, time to think and fresh air,

Plus you would show how much you care,

About the place in which you live,

Walk and cycle, that’s a good way to give.