Nature Is Everywhere

Girl with a swan - click for videoThe day had been billed as being affected by the remnants of hurricane Bertha, and in the wee small hours, it did indeed sound as though all hell had been let loose. However, after a leisurely start, including breakfast in bed, things were looking a lot calmer in the quay.

There is the temptation to draw the blinds and hunker down when the weatherman tells us that it’s going to be a nasty day. But as someone once said, there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. So by lunchtime we were out in the very fresh air and down by the quayside.

Scully had spotted Vestas, the lone swan, looking hungry amongst the boats and pontoons. Vestas is my name for him. He is ringed, but he hasn’t got a nametag, so his nickname has stuck. Though how you can tell a swan is hungry is beyond me.

In my experience, swans are always keen to eat any bread you care to give them, and the slice of thick cut wholemeal was gone in very short shrift. Scully has a way with animals, they seem to know that, as a vegan, they aren’t in any danger of being eaten, and seem to trust her just a little more. She, on the other hand, was pretty wary of Vestas’ beak. Even though they don’t have teeth as such, the serrations along his beak could inflict a deal of pain to the incautious.

The theme of nature continued as we walked into Poole. The pavement alongside the road to the Twin Sails bridge was strewn with grasshoppers of all colours and sizes. They seemed to be enjoying the dark tarmac that had been warmed by the midday sun, and were oblivious to the giant footsteps approaching. We had to be very wary of where we walked as we tried not to injure any of the creatures.

Twin Sails Bridge - Poole - Click To View OriginalHaving had a quick bite in the Slug and Lettuce (more nature references) we had a mooch around Poole and then headed back over the Twin Sails bridge. This time we were treated to the magnificent sight of the bridge opening to let one of the RNLI lifeboats through.

Compared to the old bridge with its massive solid functional structure, the new bridge is a true work of art, and watching it open majestically really is a treat.

The whole process of opening and closing the bridge only takes a few minutes, but it is well worth the time spent as you see the spars of the lifting sections tower above the waters of Holes Bay.

More mindfulness as we carefully picked our way back through the grasshoppers, followed later in the evening by a stomach churning time on one of the fairground rides in Hamworthy Park. The ghost train wasn’t nearly as experiential, though there was a squib of cold water right on the back of our necks as we entered the first ghostly tunnel.

Good Evening Mr Toad - Click To View OriginalOur day of experiencing nature first hand was rounded off in style, when who should we find waiting for us when we got home in the pitch dark, but Mr Toad. Of course, Scully was keen to put the little fellow out of harms way, many fall prey to domestic cats, so picked him up.

Contrary to popular belief, toads have a dry skin, not wet or slimy, and the rescuee sat quietly in her hands as we selected a suitably sheltered spot in the back garden. He even seemed a little reticent to crawl off into the grass, maybe he was enjoying the warmth her hands offered.

With the adventure over, it was time for bed, but our day of mindful nature will live long in the memory.

Crash, Bang, Wallop …

Thunder and LightningThe thunder, lightening and rain was biblical on Friday morning, not the kind that wakes the odd person, the kind that wakes everyone, amazing. So having been roused from our slumbers, we stood at the window watching natures incredible light show and marvelling at the rain falling vertically in huge droplets.

If we are unprepared for it, the weather can cause us all manner of problems, as witnessed by the floods in and around Somerset earlier in the year. But problems, or challenges as we prefer to refer to them, can be seen in many ways …

There was once an old lady who cried all the time. Her elder daughter was married to an umbrella merchant while the younger daughter was the wife of a noodle vendor. On sunny days, she worried, “Oh no! The weather is so nice and sunny. No one is going to buy any umbrellas. What will happen if the shop has to be closed?” These worries made her sad. She just could not help but cry.

When it rained, she would cry for the younger daughter. She thought, “Oh no! My younger daughter is married to a noodle vendor. You cannot dry noodles without the sun. Now there will be no noodles to sell. What should we do?” As a result, the old lady lived in sorrow everyday. Whether sunny or rainy, she grieved for one of her daughters. Her neighbours could not console her and jokingly called her “the crying lady.”

One day, she met a monk. He was very curious as to why she was always crying. She explained the problem to him. The monk smiled kindly and said, “Madam! You need not worry. I will show you a way to happiness, and you will need to grieve no more.”

The crying lady was very excited. She immediately asked the monk to show her what to do. The master replied, “It is very simple. You just need to change your perspective. On sunny days, do not think of your elder daughter not being able to sell umbrellas but the younger daughter being able to dry her noodles. With such good strong sunlight, she must be able to make plenty of noodles and her business must be very good. When it rains, think about the umbrella store of the elder daughter. With the rain, everyone must be buying umbrellas. She will sell a lot of umbrellas and her store will prosper.”

The old lady saw the light. She followed the monk’s instruction. After a while, she did not cry anymore; instead, she was smiling everyday. From that day on she was known as “the smiling lady.”

A Slight Postponement

Bad WeatherI have been planning to complete the Strava Gran Fondo 5 challenge so I had booked today off from work, planned my route, a trip of just over 200km, taking in all the best bits of The New Forest. I had all the nutrition organised, my bike had been serviced and was ready to go … then the weather changed.

It’s been a really miserable day, wet, very wet and really windy, not the kind of conditions you want for a serious ride. So I have had to postpone to trip until a more clement day. But let’s think about this in a wider context.

In the UK, this weekend is the Spring Bank holiday. Children are on holiday, all manner of events have been planned and organised for months, just for this weekend. So many events, the Bournemouth Wheels festival, the Bournemouth Rugby Sevens, even the Sky Nightglow Ride on Monday evening, rely to a degree on the weather.

I really hope that the weather improves over the next few days. Partly because I would really like to complete the challenge Strava have set, but mainly because of all the hard work and effort that have gone into the events of this weekend.

No matter how events, such as the weather, affect your plans in life, always take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Doing so can really put things into perspective and help you see how things really are.

Infamous Last Words

UK WeatherWe’re all still reeling under the onslaught of the continuing bad weather in Great Britain. The sheer volume of rain, combined with the tremendously strong winds shows us how powerful nature can be, and with continuing red flood alerts, just how fragile our existence on this Earth really is.

It may strike you as a rather strange thought, but something has kept playing on my mind recently. I wonder how many people who might lose loved ones in the storms and floods, took the time to tell their partner, child, friend or neighbour, that they loved them this morning.

They will never get that chance again, and may forever wish that they had taken those extra few precious seconds to express their feelings.

We all take life, and the immediate future for granted. Sometimes days, weeks, months or even years go by, without us taking time to make contact with someone for whom we care, but our lives are just too busy or complicated for us to make that call, write that email or even take that trip to reconnect.

Impermanence is key to Buddhist philosophy, nothing is forever. So before it is too late, before the chance has slipped from your grasp, make that contact and tell the person just how much you care.

When you leave the house in the morning, or part company with any other person, let the last thing you say to them, be full of Wisdom, Courage and Compassion, not something you might regret saying for the rest of your life.

The Right Choice

Keep calm and make the right choiceWell the weekend has been perfect for any kite flying aficionados living in Dorset, to say it has been windy is a huge understatement. Despite the breeze, I was keen to get out on the bike, having been unable to do so since last weekend.

Yesterday, I took myself off to Hengistbury Head along the promenade. There was a few piles of soft dry sand, blown from the beach, which made progress a little difficult in places, though the extra effort was nothing compared to that required to get back home against a nasty breeze.

So knowing the obstacles, I decided to have a later start to a repeat trip this morning, and spent a couple of hours reading Dr Douglas Graham’s book which discusses his 80-10-10 diet, the basis of his own, and my adopted eating regime. And very thought provoking it is too, arguing strongly and convincingly just how unhealthy the western diet has become of the last few decades.

Just reading the forward to the book makes one sit and think. So I thought I would share it with you, so you decide whether you might want to read the book, to help you make the right choices for your own dietary decisions …

As an Ironman triathlete, ultra marathoner, and holder of nearly 1,000 race first places, I know how important the right diet is. It dismays me to see how much dietary misinformation is being spread with the main goal being to make money. Because so many people are misinformed about the proper diet, obesity is at the highest rates in history, and as more people buy into these money-making schemes, obesity and its associated diseases are going to continue to increase at horrendous rates.

Over and over again, I hear people saying they’ve tried “everything” to lose weight — low fat, high fat, low carb, high carb, low protein, high protein, all kinds of pills, shots, powders, and shakes — you name it and they say they’ve tried it. The main cause of their failure is misinformation.

There are reasons for each of these dietary failures. What they were told was “low fat,” usually 30%, actually is not low fat at all, and they have no idea how to get to an effective low-fat 10% as described in this book. High-fat diets can be dangerous and put you at risk for the diseases that most Westerners die from prematurely. Low-carb diets are also dangerous, and most people have no idea that the ideal diet consists of 80% carbs. But, it must be the right carbs.

High-protein diets lead to osteoporosis, kidney disease, and lack of energy for exercise. Most people think that low-protein diets will never work, having been convinced by the meat and dairy industries that the more protein you eat, the better — and nothing could be further from the truth.

As for pills, shots, powders, and shakes, these gimmicks will never give people the health they really seek. What they don’t realize is that obesity is actually a symptom of eating the wrong diet. The same is true of most of the other diseases we suffer from, for example, heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, colitis, constipation, osteoporosis, acne, erectile dysfunction, dementia, and even vision and hearing problems. These are all symptoms of the diseases of consuming the wrong diet.

You are holding in your hands the book that will give you the dietary information we all need to have. You don’t have to be an Ironman triathlete or even want to be one, but you owe it to yourself to read The 80/10/10 Diet!

Ruth E. Heidrich, PhD
Author, A Race For Life

I’m not trying to sell the book for Dr Graham, I’m not even suggesting that any of you folks change your own diet, but I do think it would be wrong of me to keep this information to myself. If you do want to read it, this is a link to the book on Amazon, if you decide you think the diet is for you.

Say Something Nice

More Bad WeatherWe’re all reeling under the onslaught of the latest surge of bad weather to hit Great Britain. The sheer volume of rain and snow, combined with the strong winds shows us how powerful nature can be, and with at least one person missing, just how fragile our existence on this Earth really is.

It may strike you as a rather strange thought, but something kept playing on my mind all day. I wonder how many people who might lose loved ones in the storms and floods, took the time to tell their partner, child, friend or neighbour, that they loved them this morning.

They will never get that chance again, and may forever wish that they had taken those extra few precious seconds to express their feelings.

We all take life, and the immediate future for granted. Sometimes days, weeks, months or even years go by, without us taking time to make contact with someone for whom we care, but our lives are just too busy or complicated for us to make that call, write that email or even take that trip to reconnect.

Impermanence is key to Buddhist philosophy, nothing is forever. So before it is too late, before the chance has slipped from your grasp, make that contact and tell the person just how much you care.

When you leave the house in the morning, or part company with any other person, let the last thing you say to them, be full of Wisdom, Courage and Compassion, not something you might regret saying for the rest of your life.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Rain, Rain, Go Away - © Bridget Lemin 2012With the Meteorological Office reporting that June has been the wettest on record in the UK, I imagine that many of us are getting pretty cheesed off with the lack of a ‘proper’ summer.

Recently Wimbledon and now the London Olympics both rely quite heavily on reasonable conditions, so it will be interesting to see how the authorities cope with the unseasonal rain.

The economy could do with some fine weather too, the UK tourism industry needs a good summer to turn a profit, but the outlook looks rather bleak. Even our own holiday was not without a couple of days of rain, as you can see.

But we should all remember that life, in the form we know it, would not exist on Earth if it were not for water. Only weeks ago we were being told that there was a water shortage and that hosepipe bans would be with us all summer. For the poor weatherman, having to spread the news of doom and gloom each evening, it can’t be much fun either.

In the news today, the Environment Agency have issued a report, stating that the Government should plan for more ‘extreme weather’ brought on by man-made global warming. It cannot come as any surprise, we have been releasing increasing amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere for decades, and we all know the connection between cause and effect.

But as with all things in life, this is all part of a longer cycle of events. Remembering back to my childhood, the sun shone every day during the school summer holidays, it was always roasting hot during exam times and the Wheel of Life will turn again.

So let’s look on the bright side. As someone once said, there is no such thing as bad weather, just a poor choice of clothing. Whilst I sympathise with the poor souls who are watching their homes get ruined by flood water, we actually need the water. So like the Boy Scouts, be prepared, carry an umbrella, and remember that every cloud has a silver lining.

Quiescent Sunday

Second Hand StuffAfter our rather hectic and task filled Saturday, it was wonderful to have a slow and peaceful Sunday morning. We lay in bed all morning talking. There seems so much to talk about, the past, the present and the future and somehow time just flies by.

So by the time we had showered and got ourselves ready to leave it was after noon. First stop was the local recycling centre. It seems so much better, disposing of unwanted items, when you know that over 50% of the raw materials will be reused.

We then took a few other items to Wot Nots in Westerleigh, a second hand shop, who warehouse and sell unwanted items on. They only accept things they think will sell, so we had to keep one of the light fittings we had taken, but some of the items will find a new home and we might get a couple of pounds for them.

A quick whizz round Sainsbury’s and then off to see B’s parents, with a welcome cup of coffee and a nice chat. By now the day was almost over, so we spent an hour or so preparing dinner.

By the time it was cooked, eaten and cleared away it was time for bed again. Sunday evenings are always too short, knowing that in the early hours of Monday I have to set off back for Ringwood. But it had been a restful day and a fitting end to a lovely weekend.

What A Day !!!

Global WarmingWeather of biblical proportions has struck most of the UK today, uprooting trees, creating havoc on the roads, cutting power to thousands of homes and causing two fatal accidents. In the office, it sounded like the roof was about to lift off and the windows were flexing with each gust of wind.

Whilst it pales into insignificance when compared to the hurricanes and tornados we see around the world, it still serves to remind us that although we feel we have control of our environment most of the time, nature has virtually unlimited power at its disposal.

Tonight, the weather has calmed, the wind has dropped and the rain abated. I hope none of you have suffered as a result of todays storms. The weathermen are promising worse for tomorrow, so let us not forget that we are at the mercy of the elements, and that these record breaking events are almost certainly connected to global warming, something we can, indeed must, control.

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