I had a litter picker for my birthday – the grabber thing that means you don’t have to bend down to pick things up. It’s not a sign of premature ageing (I’m still in my late youth, you know), but Ms Markontour had noted the rising frequency with which I come through the front door grumbling about all the mess in our street and decided to provide me with the means to do something about it. Today I tried it out for the first time and now Bakers Avenue is going to win Britain’s Cleanest Street!
The Leyton Marshes, part of the Lea Valley which flows down from the Chiltern Hills all the way through London to disgorge into the Thames near Poplar, is a rare haven for wildlife and tranquility in the great metropolis in which markontour lives. Indeed, the beauty of the Lea Valley’s parks, canal and marshes is the main reason we moved to Walthamstow fifteen years ago. Yet now it is threatened by a badly conceived development put forward by the very authority that was created to protect it. It has to be stopped.
I am spending a whole day on trains today, as I seek to find a lower carbon route from London to Copenhagen. I visit that wonderful city regularly for work and am likely to need to do so more in the future. In a previous job I used to take the night train, but time pressures pushed me into flying – a bad habit that I am now trying to break. Well aware of the hypocrisy of a climate change professional spending so much time inside a kerosene-fuelled metal bird, I am very much hoping that the day-time rail route proves viable.
Radio Four’s new series, ‘Economics with Subtitles’, got off to a great start with a programme explaining why GDP growth is not a useful indicator of the success of a society. “Economics is the only discipline where endless growth is regarded as a good thing”, says presenter Steve Bugeja, quoting a character in a Jonathan Frantzen novel, ”In biology there’s a word for that – and it’s cancer.”
I can’t quite believe that I am writing a blog about the Hampton Court Flower Show. This is not markontour’s natural territory. But having failed on the promise to learn how to salsa that was the mainstay of my 40th birthday present to Ms markontour, I felt compelled to follow through with sharing an Xmas present of tickets to the aforementioned floral festival. I have to admit, I rather enjoyed it.
‘H is for Hawk’ won many “Best Non-Fiction” garlands last year and so there are no shortages of reviews, yet it is just so good that markontour would not be complete without adding to the eulogies. I have never had an interest in falconry, or any desire to train a wild animal of any kind, but ultimately ‘H is for Hawk’ simply made me want to be outside and enjoying our wonderful planet while it is still a place of extraordinary diversity and beauty.
For something like the last five Christmases my main present to my partner, Liz, has been a trip to the Farne Islands to see the puffins…