Wednesday, 19 August 2015

If I could be a 'dream'….

I wish I could be a dream. If I could, I would visit our misguided leaders, policy makers and those who run the banks and multinational corporations, in their sleep. I would fill their troubled heads with images, sounds and smells of meadows and verges full of wild flowers, butterflies, crickets and bees; sunshine, rain and clouds; breezes and howling winds, muddy puddles, brooks, rivers, and oceans; dandelion clocks and daisy chains; ancient woodlands and wild forests; home made bread, cake and compost; freshly picked runner beans and tomatoes that have been grown outside and pollinated by local native bumblebees; healthy soil; rainbow coloured mosses and pale green lichen; song birds and slow worms; and lots and lots of glow worms; mountain tops and mole hills; Sunday afternoon walks and family get togethers from the days before shops were open every day of the week and Sundays truly were a day of rest; people playing music in local parks without a licence; pine martins, beavers, wolves and otters; raindrops caught in spiders webs; full moons and starlit skies; the feel of walking bare foot on wet grass; laughter; abundance for everyone; deliciously crispy but misshapen apples; fresh, unpolluted air and fresh, unpolluted (free) water; hedgerows brimming with life; more bees, butterflies, moths and crickets; and with so many more good, healthy, natural, magical, enchanting and beautiful things….. that they would fall head-over-heels in love with this amazing planet we live on. Then, they would wake up (in more than just one sense) and change their destructive elitist policies, decisions, rules and regulations to reflect their new found 'earth, people and wildlife friendly' views. Then, all would be well.


If I can't make this wish come true, I will plant more flowers for bees in the Queen Mother's Garden in Shaftesbury this weekend instead :-)

Wishing and hoping that peace, love, light and good old fashioned common sense will prevail x


Friday, 24 July 2015

Why I'm Not Burying My Head In A Harebell!

I write and talk a great deal about bees: their importance as pollinators; their beauty; the wonderful relationship they have with flowering plants; the differences between the species; the reasons for their decline; and how we can help them survive. I also write and talk a lot about neonicotinoid pesticides.

Despite how it may appear, these issues are neither insular nor as 'bee-centric' as they may seem. In fact, they encompass FAR more than the bee/pesticide issues I write and talk about…..

1. If we get it wrong for bees, it follows that we are getting it wrong for ALL life on earth.

2. At the same time as the UK government ignore and bury scientific advice, as well as ignoring public outcry about the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on bees….they simultaneously ignore and bury information on myriad other issues.

3. Pesticides don't just harm bees. They harm other wildlife and, of course, human beings.

4. Habitat loss does not just affect bees. It is also affecting all other wildlife & causing loss of biodiversity on a catastrophic scale.

5. If we continue to lose bee populations/species we will continue to lose the plants that rely upon them for pollination. This will, in turn bring about the loss of wild flowers, farmland birds, small mammals & the collapse of entire eco-systems.

6. Whilst multinational agrochemical corporations like Bayer & Syngenta are manufacturing toxic chemicals like the neonicotinoids that are contributing to bee decline…… other equally powerful corporations like Monsanto, Dupont, BASF and Dow Chemical area manufacturing equally toxic and damaging substances.

7. Learning to fall in love with bees is just one of the many ways we can re-establish our relationship and disconnection with the wonderful world around us.

8. Climate change is already causing noticeable problems for bees…..but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

9. Disease & infection in bee populations (honeybees & wild bees) is a symptom of what is happening on a wider scale with birds, bats, amphibians, human beings…etc. etc.

So…... planting flowers for pollinators, getting to know and recognise the bees and other insects in your garden, not using pesticides, signing petitions asking our government to listen to our views on the neonicotinoid issue……..these are all part of a FAR bigger picture. My posts may appear to be focussed on just one single issue, but choosing to concentrate on raising awareness of this single issue (bee decline) doesn't mean i am not concerned about other issues, or that I am burying my head in a harebell.
Everything is interconnected!!!
Vive les abeilles!




Friday, 19 June 2015

Putting a price tag on 'natural resources' is not a solution; it just creates more problems

I'm so tired of hearing about the importance of 'economic growth' and I despair of humanity if we've reached the stage where wildlife is only conserved for its monetary value.  The same goes for water, air and soil quality. Every time I hear references these days to the natural world and its importance to us (the human race), the commentary is dotted with phrases like 'natural resources', 'ecosystem services', 'pollinator services', 'natural capital' etc etc. Phrases such as these make me wince. I've tried to understand them and to get along with them, but I simply can't.

As far as I can see we've already done plenty of 'growing' but I see no evidence whatsoever that it is making us any happier, or healthier….nor is it helping those most in need.  It just seems to be stripping us of the last vestiges of the connection we once had with the natural world. How on earth can you have an intimate, loving and interconnected relationship with something you have to put a price tag on?!

Economic growth seems to be about putting price tags on just about everything that moves; whether it has six legs and two pairs of wings, is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, or lives next door and is willing to look after your small child or your elderly mother whilst you go into hospital for an operation. It's called monetisation and over the last few decades it seems to have insidiously crept its way into every area of our lives.

Surely the clue to how we should function as a species is in how we feel and see things as children? i.e our natural state of being. We are born with an innate connection to Planet Earth, a connection that fills us with love and concern for our fellow creatures, but this connection is systematically drummed out of us when we go to school, if not before, and is mostly replaced with a very human-centric 'what can it do for me' view of the world.

Whatever happened to us caring for something and wanting to conserve it simply for the love of life? What, I wonder, has happened to the human race that we are now so disconnected from the land, from our natural surroundings, from our communities and from our own inner selves…. that we have all but forgotten who we are….?

There are of course many people who still have, or have recently re-discovered, their intimate connection with the natural world; people who hold all life sacred and who do what they can to conserve and preserve life for its own sake rather than for what is is worth in monetary terms. But these people are still few and far between.

I battle with the fact that to inspire (most) businesses, councils etc., and (some) individuals to sit up and take notice of the importance of 'bee decline', it is not sufficient to introduce them to the wonderful, enchanting and enthralling world of these incredible beings, but it is also necessary to focus on the human-centric aspect of halting bee decline. Most people need, at the very least, to understand bees importance as pollinators in the human food chain in order that they will take their decline more seriously.  Surely bee decline, or the decline of any other species impacted upon by the human race for that matter, should be a serious issue in its own right?

When I deliver talks to individuals, groups and societies I always feel extremely touched and encouraged when I witness the sadness and the raw humanity in people as they begin to understand exactly how toxic neonicotinoids are to bees… and exactly how much habitat has been lost to modern agricultural practices and urban sprawl… not to mention the undiluted shock they express when they hear how bumblebees are bred in their thousands to 'service' commercial tomato crops, and then frozen, drowned or burned to death after the pollinating is done.

But whether or not any of what I say has a lasting impact on the way people make their choices I don't know.

There are many reasons used to justify the ongoing shift towards putting a monetary value on the natural world, and we are all entitled to think/believe what we wish, but none of them sit well with me…. despite the crazy irony that governments are paying huge attention to bee decline simply because of their so called 'value to the economy'. Lucky bees. Not so lucky if you are an insect with less (known) value to the economy though, for you are ultimately dispensable.

My own belief is that if we are to save what is left of the incredible diversity of species we share this planet with, nothing short of a complete Sea-change in our collective psyche is needed. Putting a price on wildlife, clean water and air, or healthy 'living' soil is not the solution. It just creates more problems and disconnects us further from all that is sacred. 

If only we would all spend a little time each day (or even each week) simply sitting quietly on the grass, beside a stream, on a beach, in a garden, in a park, amongst some rocks, underneath a tree (or even better, in a tree!)…. and just listen, breath, observe, watch, notice, absorb…….. connect. If we were all to do this we might collectively begin to experience once again that unadulterated wonderment, enchantment and love we felt when we were children. And we cannot hurt that which we love.

Brigit x

P.S…..when did a bee last send you an invoice?






Friday, 5 June 2015

Cornish 'Living Churchyard' Wildlife Mangled by Council Contractors

I was too upset and angry to sleep last night and want to share the reason for my anger with as many people as possible in the hope that it might stop similar travesties from happening in other areas, to which end I make no apologies for the emotive (tabloid) language I have used in the title for this blog post. 

Last year I moved from my home in Tywardreath, on the south Cornish coast to live in Shaftesbury, North Dorset. I love my new home in Dorset, but of course there are things I miss about living in Cornwall, including the beautiful churchyard in Tywardreath. The church of St Andrew the Apostle is involved in Cornwall's wonderful Living Churchyards Project and has consequently become a haven for local wildlife. There is a sign in the churchyard explaining exactly why the grass and wild flowers are left to grow till the autumn, just in case anyone might think the space has been neglected.

As well as trees, grasses, wildflowers, small mammals, birds, frogs and insects, this churchyard is also home to hedgehogs and, at certain times of the year, provides an abundant feeding ground and evening roost for the lesser horseshoe bat.

Until this week that is.

For reasons known only to themselves, it seems that CORMAC who are contracted by the council to maintain churchyards in Cornwall, have chosen the month of June to obliterate this habitat in its entirety with their strimmers and mowers. Not only have they cut down every last blade of grass and wild flower, but their blades have massacred and mangled every living creature unfortunate enough not to have escaped in time from this wildlife sanctuary…. including, I'm told, fledgling birds, frogs and four hedgehogs.

One of the saddest things about this is the cruel irony that these creatures were attracted to the churchyard because of the wonderful way it has been managed…. only to be cut down and killed by mowers at the most abundant time of the year and at the peak of their breeding season.

My friend, Daniel, posted photographs of the damage yesterday on Facebook,  along with this heart rending post…

Our living churchyard here in Tywardreath destroyed by Cormac ! they strimmed around the signs that state no cutting back will be done until Autumn ! they drove their big mowers over the graves damaging them , Four dead hedgehogs were found mangled by the machinery along with several fledgling birds , frogs , all the wild flowers are gone along with all the bees , butterflies and other abundant pollinators that were there, which were a food source for all our nesting swifts and birds in the village and not to mention the food source for the rare bat species that we were blessed with there ! Angry is not the word !!!! :( absolutely livid !




















It is of course too late now for the hedgehogs, birds, frogs, bees, butterflies etc who have been wiped out by this act of vandalism,  but hopefully someone will be held to account and lessons will be learned so that it doesn't happen again. My understanding is that there is evidence here for a prosecution under the Wildlife & Countryside Act. 

P.S  Since I wrote this blog, Cormac have stated on their twitter feed that their team 'cleared wildlife and frogs before.'   They have also posted the following statement on their Facebook page…

"In response to the concerns at Tywardreath Churchyard the matter is being looked into by our Area Manager. However we can confirm that we did take measures prior to any grass trimming to ensure that as far as reasonably possible no wildlife would be harmed. 
The dead hedgehog was found on site before any of our works took place. 
If our Area Manager identifies any areas for improvement then appropriate measures will be taken.
We are sorry to hear of the concerns but can assure residents that the matter will be followed up as necessary."



If you have a Facebook account you can find Daniel's post and more photos here….. https://www.facebook.com/danielgrant.villa/media_set?set=a.10152790254321441&type=1



Monday, 18 May 2015

STILL not worried about Neonics & bee decline?!

Are you one of the people who is not yet concerned about, or interested in, the Neonicotinoid issue….. and/or the fact that these pesticides (the most widely used in the world), are systematically (and systemically) decimating the planet's amazing diversity and population of pollinators???   If so, please know that the situation is NOW BECOMING QUITE DIRE.

There are myriad factors contributing to bee decline (other major causes including habitat loss, invasive species, disease, climate change and pollution) and we are fast approaching a point of no return. Ecosystems are extremely complex and fragile. If the insects & other pollinators who underpin them are no longer there, ecosystems will collapse and this will have a knock on effect like a pack of cards. If we don't treat this situation with the urgency it demands, there could soon be insufficient pollinators left to pollinate the planet's food crops…. never mind the 80% of Planet Earth's flowering pants that bees alone are responsible for pollinating. What is 'here' this year, might very well be 'gone' next year.

Do you eat apples? Tomatoes? Strawberries? Squashes? Meat? Would you be prepared to travel to where these crops (or the crops that are grown to feed them) are grown - and spend hours and hours hand pollinating them yourselves in order to have them produce their fruits for you to eat? If not, you really should make it your business to find out more about what's going on and do something about it, because once our pollinators have gone, they're gone. Extinction is forever….and forever is a very long time.

It is time now to wake up and take responsibility for what is happening in the world around us. Write letters to your MPs & MEPs asking them what they are doing about the situation…. boycott the companies that produce these pesticides and lobby the shops that sell them…. choose food that is grown without them… but above all, make it your business to become more informed! One of the main reasons these multinationals get away with controlling the food chain is because not enough people give a stuff. Knowledge is power; without it we are no more in control of our lives than a herd of sheep.

If you are reading this post, then you have access to a computer. If you are not already on top of the neonicotinoid issue, perhaps you could use your computer to google 'neonicotinoids and bee decline'. Or look up the scientific data that shows a single kernel of corn coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a song bird outright.  

Then decide what you are able to do to help our beleaguered pollinators….whether it be planting the right flowers, creating more suitable habitat, or reducing the use of hidden pesticides in your food shopping. Whatever you do, no mater how small, you might just help tip the balance in favour of bees and other pollinators not becoming extinct!

Scientific and anecdotal evidence that neonicotinoids pesticides are killing bees - as well as other pollinators and wildlife - is now overwhelming. Yet I read today that the NFU are calling for the restrictions to be lifted so farmers can use these banned toxins on their oilseed rape crops. These crops do not even NEED to be treated with neonics.

As far as I can see, this has go nothing to do with feeding the world. It appears to be about £££££'s and $$$$$'s… greed… control… fear… and the hold the agrochemical multinationals have upon the world's food chain.

Ironically and alarmingly, whilst many counties are calling for more restrictions on the use of these highly toxic pesticides, the UK government actually opposed the current temporary EU ban….. and the National Farmers Union (NFU), who you'd have thought would care a great deal about the health of pollinating insects, have just submitted a request to the Government for a derogation that would allow farmers to use banned neonicotinoid treated seeds this Autumn.  Yet these crops do not even NEED to be treated with neonics.  See link below…..

NFU wants farmers to be able to use the banned seed treatments in oilseed rape crops sown this autumn 

A few more important articles to save you having to trawl the internet….

Nearly one in 10 of Europe's wild bee species far extinction

Has Farming Lost Its Way?

The Drugs (Neonicotinoids) Don't Work

Bee die-offs are worst where pesticides use is heaviest

Friday, 17 April 2015

On my father's death and why I think we should all 'talk' more

My father, Mike Weiner, died a year ago yesterday. I planted forget-me-nots on his grave, accompanied my mother and one of my brothers to a very lovely memorial service for him at the church they attended (he used to love singing in the choir) and ate the last of his green tomato chutney. My father was a chutney king; he made green tomato and plum chutney every year for England, but always rationed it in case it ran out before next autumn's crops were ready to pick, so there were loads of bottles left on the pantry shelves after his death. The ones I kept for myself have lasted till now.

Then I lay awake for hours last night thinking about my father and the finality (?) of death.

We all believe different things. I personally believe that something of us lives on, whether it be in the hearts of those who loved us, in another realm, or in the earth we become part of once again. However, whatever happens after we die, we are definitely no longer here in our human form - and that, for me, is pretty final. It means that those who are left behind are no longer able to have conversations with those they have lost. This means no more stories, questions, answers, shared thoughts, memories and laughter, apologies or explanations. So anything that has not been 'said' remains unsaid/unspoken forever.

There are so many things I wish I'd asked my father - or told him and explained to him. There are things about him I'd like to have made sense of, and things about myself that I'd like him to have understood. But it's too late now for any more dialogue. So I am left, like many others, not just with the happy memories (of which there are many!) but also with some regrets.

This is the nature of life and death I guess, but it has left me thinking that... despite the fact we have been gifted the amazing power of speech….and have at our disposal hundreds of thousands of words to chose from…. human beings don't always use these gifts to communicate whilst we can. I mean really communicate, not just small talk, but the kind of talk that resolves misunderstandings…..the kind of dialogue that makes sense of the unfathomable…..the kind of conversations that might well be challenging for both parties, but without which we can live our whole lives as partial strangers, even to those we love, and are loved by, the most.

This probably all sounds a bit deep for a Friday morning blog post, but I wanted to share these thoughts in case anyone reading them has things they want to say to someone they love, but are holding back, for whatever reason.


There are, of course, things that are better left unsaid….and it is equally (vitally) important that we learn to accept people for who they are without needing to understand the cores of their being! However, if there are things that could be talked about….. things that you might regret not having said after someone has gone…. maybe it's worth saying them now, whilst you still can, because when death comes (to you or to the ones you love) it's forever, and forever is a very long time.

RIP Michael Richard Child Weiner  16th Jan 1932 - 16th April 2014  
You were much loved 
x x x x x x x



Thursday, 9 April 2015

'Of building sites and broad beans….'

I usually have fairly high levels of patience and tolerance, but this month I have become increasingly bothered by the noise and mess coming from the house next door. 
My partner and I rent a tiny terraced cottage, one of eight arranged around a little grassed area with a pump in the middle, in the most peaceful place I have ever lived - and I love it. 
However, for the last month, the house adjoining ours has become a building site. It's going to be a 'holiday let'. This saddens me because two of the other cottages that sold here last year have already become holiday or weekend lets….and yet another is now on the market, advertised as 'perfect for holiday let.' That will be four out of the eight, so the wonderful community we moved into last year is rapidly beginning to dwindle. Curtains in one of the houses remain closed for months on end... and come summer, there will be comings and goings as people book the cottages for their summer holidays. They will be lovely people, but we won't have time to get to know them.
Our walls are quite thick, but yesterday, after nearly a month of banging, drilling, sawing and (very loud) radio music; the noise finally got to me. As did the mess, and the fact that the beautiful plants outside my front door are no longer green, but are covered in brick dust, which I know will wash off when it rains….but there's no rain forecast in the near future. 
I know I should rise above all this because it is only a temporary situation and the new owners/builders are very nice friendly people, but yesterday it all became too much. So I went down to the allotment to see the broad beans we'd planted out at the weekend.
I told the beans what was going on, and this is what they said….

"Go back home and be accepting of the noise and the dust coming from next door. Know that you are lucky to have the gifts of hearing and sight. Some people have neither. Accept this noise and mess, and wish good things to the people who are making it. Neither noise nor dust will last forever.

Tune your ears, instead, to the sounds of the woodpeckers pecking, the bees buzzing and the chiffchaffs chiffchaffing. Then, instead of noticing only mess and chaos, shift your focus to notice the blackbirds digging up worms for their young, the queen Tree bee gathering pollen from winter flowering currant to provision her nest, and the happy smiling builders next door enjoying the April sunshine as they listen to Radio 2 whilst they work. 

Then make yourself a cup of tea and have a large slice of that amazingly delicious fruit cake with the florentine topping that you made your lovely man for his birthday yesterday"


The beans are, of course, quite right. They reminded me how incredibly fortunate I am to live where I live; with someone I love and who loves me back; that I have eyes to see and ears to listen; and that I have good health. Had I been disabled I wouldn't have been able to walk to my allotment. Had I been blind I would not see the mess, but neither would I be able to watch the blackbird collecting worms. Were I not able to hear, I would be oblivious to the noise coming from next door, but I would not hear the birds singing or the bees buzzing or the wind in the trees. All cliches, I know, but profoundly and soberingly true.

So, today, instead of being a grumpy bum, I am going to count my blessings and enjoy being alive despite the fact that I am living next door to a building site.

Thank you beans!