Saturday, 14 November 2015

How to write a book

Our book - in Waterstone's!
It's only now we've finally written and published a book that I realise every book on every bookshelf contains two stories - the story within the book and the story of how the book came to be written.  If you ask Google "How to write a book" you'll get over 26 million results - many of them will tell you about the structure and the process of writing a book but few will tell you about the journey the author has been on - so let me tell you our story (and don't worry, I'm only going to cover the highlights).

Childhood:  My addiction to books began early - prompted by older bookworm siblings, aged 4, I nagged my mum to teach me to read before I started school.  Throughout my childhood I progressed from Janet and John to pretty much anything Enid Blyton ever wrote.

I clearly recall visits to the local library - I remember how it smelled with its wooden floors and miles of wooden bookshelves.  I remember being fascinated by the "trains with the faces" books (Thomas the Tank engine long before the cartoon series) and I remember the excitement of clutching 6 library tickets and knowing I could pick any 6 books I wanted (within reason!).  I also remember the HUGE carousel of library tickets behind the checkout counter, the swoosh it made as the librarian spun it to find the ticket for my book and the "kerthump-chink" of the date stamp on the inside cover.

Teen years:  Still reading and Malcolm Saville's "Lone Pine" series entered the mix.  I also tackled Gone With the Wind, All Quiet on the Western Front and Z for Zachariah.  Then there were the books we were forced to read for exams:  Lord of the Flies (hated it!), Midsummer Night's Dream (at least it was funny) and the World War 1 poets (absolutely loved them and still do).

My first foray into real life adventure books began with "The Dove" by Robin Lee Graham - the story of the round the world sailing trip he made when he was just a teenager.

To be honest I read a lot less at Uni as I was a) too busy studying and b) too busy drinking... (hope my mum isn't reading this)

The working years...  Books came back into my life in a big way at roughly the same time commuting did and Richmond Library was my supplier of choice.  It was there that one day I borrowed "The Turquoise Mountain" by Brian Blessed (who I vaguely remembered from Z-Cars).  He introduced me to the mystery of Mallory and Irvine, so I borrowed books about them, which led me to Heinrich Harrer, Edmund Hilary, Joe Tasker, Scott, Bonington, Shipton and a passion for mountaineering books that continues to this day.

My fav spot around Fleet Pond
Steve:  We met in 2002 and married in 2003 having bonded while solving the problem of 24 sausages on a BBQ and no bread roles.  We started off living in his tiny bachelor pad before saving enough to finally move to our "if not forever then at least for a really long time" home in Fleet in Hampshire.  Steve was happily working away in IT and I took my first steps into freelance training with a lovely part time job to keep me ticking over.  Life was good!

In September 2009 the dark clouds of the recession and job losses began to gather; by summer 2010 the writing was on the wall and it became clear that we had some big decisions to make. We headed off for 6 weeks in our camper van to get our heads together (and I will be forever grateful to my boss of the time for allowing me that essential sabbatical).

Having explored Northumberland and Dumfries & Galloway we ended up in Cumbria - while I'd been busy reading my way around the West Midlands Steve had been preoccupied with growing up in Kents Bank and wanted to show me his old stomping ground, which was when the idea hit us - let's start a whole new life.  You can read the details of how all that unfolded here - below I'm now going to tell the rest of our story via my social media updates which pop up in my "on this day in history" type app.

Nov 2010 following a house hunting trip
to Cumbria
We ended up living in our campervan for 3 months while our house in Fleet failed to sell.  I was working full time for Lancashire County Council and doing a spot of blogging on the side.  We eventually moved into a tiny bungalow with bags of potential while the tenant from hell took over our house in Fleet - it took us well over a year of absolute desperation on the money front while we got him out and eventually sold the house.

Our plan now was to build up the writing side of things using my words and Steve's pics so we began working (for free at first) with anyone who'd have us.

By November 2012 things had begun to pick up and this happened.

This was the new profile pic I mention in the post:

There then followed a couple of bumpy years - summarised here - where we got involved in anything and everything we could and learned loads about ourselves, the world of writing and Cumbria.  Then on 5th August 2014 this email popped in:

"Dear Beth Pipe,

I work for Amberley Publishing, and came across your blog about Life and Hiking in Cumbria.
I was wondering if you’d be interested in producing a book ..."

Naturally I was convinced it was a wind up, but apparently not.  By the time content was agreed and contracts were signed it was November.  I'd kept the secret from my friends for 3 months (a miracle really) but now was the time to break the news...

Reading back I fear I sound a little grouchy about the deal - not so - the message I was trying to convey to my friends was that we weren't about to become overnight millionaires rather than any dissatisfaction with the contract.  Believe me, we were over the blooming moon that anyone was prepared to take a chance on us!

There then followed many months of me hiding away in libraries while Steve was out and about taking the photos. before we delivered the final draft of the book at the end of June 2015 - all we had to do now was wait...

The day it finally arrived my over-riding emotion before I saw it was, believe it or not, fear.  What if it looked awful?  What if there were loads of typos?  What if people hated it?  What if I'd got all my facts wrong?  I've seen other writers talk about their delight and excitement when they first saw their first book for the first time - I was more overwhelmed in a "Really?  Did we just actually do this?" kind of a way.

It's gradually sinking in now as sales are taking off and most days see us off to drop books into a small local shop or send them out in the post - and the feedback so far has been good so I may even open that long awaited bottle of fizz to celebrate this weekend.

As coincidence would have it a friend from Fleet sent us some photos of our old house a few days ago.  The new owners are doing the extension we'd always planned to and it's looking great.  We had a moment when we saw the photos as we peered around our still small bungalow with half our stuff still in boxes in the undercroft (and by "half our stuff" I mean several dozen boxes of books for me and three thousand miles of computer cable for Steve), but the reality is, if we'd stayed there we'd have missed out on all the adventures we've had together over the past few years and, most importantly, we'd never have learned how to write a book.

PS You can buy the book here. :-)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Book Bibliography

An odd post this - but it was the only way we could think of doing it.  Our book is now out and we were on a pretty strict word count so when we announced to the publisher that our bibliography was best part of 1000 words they asked us to trim it for the print edition, which we did.  However I do want to give full credit to all our sources so the full list of our references is below.  (And I had SO much fun ferreting around in libraries for them all!)

Armstrong, Margaret, Thirlmere Across the Bridges to Chapel 1849 – 1852 (Peel Wyke, 1989)
Bampton & District Local History Society, A Cast Iron Community (Bampton & District Local History Society, 2006)
Birkett, Bill, A Year in the Life of the Langdales, (Frances Lincoln Ltd, 2004)
Brown, Alisdair, The Beauty of Buttermere or A Maid Betrayed  (Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1979)
Budworth, Joseph, A Fortnight’s Ramble to the Lakes (Cadell and Davies, 1810)
Carrall, Geoffrey, Wythburn Church & the valley of Thirlmere (Piper Publications, 2006)
Carruthers, F J, People Called Cumbri (Robert Hale, London, 1979)
Collingwood W G, Two Bronze Amulets (Cumbria & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society, 1904)
Collingwood, W G, Lake District History (Titus Wilson & Sons, 1928)
Cooper, D G, The Crummock Water Aureole (Journal of the Geology Society of London V145, 1988)
Cooper, Swainson, Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Pt 1 Vol XI (Titus Wilson, 1889)
Cox, Thomas, Magna Britannia: A Topographical, Ecclesiastical and Natural History (Thomas Cox, 1700)
Darrall, Geoffrey, Wythburn Church and the Valley of Thirlmere (Piper Publications, 2006)
Day, Adam, To Bid Them Farewell: A Foot & Mouth Diary (Hayloft Publishing, 2004)
Edgar, Gordon, The Settle to Carlisle Railway (Amberley Publishing, 2014)
Edmunds, Mark, The Langdales – Landscape and Pre History in a Lakeland Valley, (The History Press, 2010)
Farquhar, Sir Robert, Objections to the Thirlmere Scheme (Printed at Lakes Chronicle Offices 1879)
Farrer, William, Curwen, John, Records Relating to the Barony of Kendale Volume 1 (Kendal: Titus Publishing, 1923)
Ferguson, Robery, The Northmen in Cumberland and Westmoreland (Longman and Co, 1856)
Fraser, Maxwell, Companion into Lakeland (London, Methuen and Co, 1937)
Gamble, Robert, Lake District Place Names (Hayloft Publishing 2013)
Gannon, Paul, Rock Trails of Lakeland (Pesda Press Ltd, 2009)
Gregory, Christopher, The Extractive Industries of Kentmere, (Staveley and District History Society, 2000)
Harwood, Sir John James, History and description of Thirlmere Water Scheme (Blacklock & Co Printers, 1895)
Hodgson, John, A Topographical and Historical Description of Westmorland (Sherwood, Neely & Jones, 1810)
Hoyle, Norman, Sankey, Kenneth, Thirlmere Water a Hundred Miles a Hundred Years (Centwrite, 1994)
Hudson, John, Sketches of Grange (Original 1850, reprint, Landy Publishing, 2001)
Hunt, Irvine, Old Lakeland Transport (Rusland Press, 1978)
Levi, Jan, And Nobody Woke up Dead (St Edmundsbury Press, 2006)
Lysons Daniel, Magna Britannia: Cumberland, (Cadell and Davies, 1816)
Mannex, P J, History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland (Simkin, Marshall & Co, 1849)
Moon, Michael & Sylvia, Bygone Whitehaven VIII (Michael Moon’s Bookshop, 1976)
Murray, John, A Tour in the English Lakes with Thomas Gray and Joseph Farington (Frances Lincoln, 2012)
Nicholson, J W, A History of the Manor of Crosby Garrett (J W Braithwaite & Sons, 1914)
Nicholson, Joseph, The History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland (Nicholson, Joseph, 1777)
Nightingale, Benjamin, The Ejected of 1662 in Cumberland and Westmorland (Manchester University Press, 1911)
Nixon, John, Wings over Sands (Razorsharp Books, 2012)
Pain, Rollo, Why Cartmel? Survival of a Small Racecourse (Lakeland Heath, 2001)
Palmer, W J, Memories of Dunmail Raise (Cycling Magazine, December, 1927)
Philipson, Douglas, Lakeland Bobbin Makers (Handstand, 2010)
Pugmire Martin, The Possible Roman Road between Ambleside and the Keswick Area (CWAAS Vol IV Titus - Wilson & Son, 2004)
Ramshaw, David, The English Lakes (P3 Publications, 1996)
Richard, Guthrie, A Tour Through Old Lakeland (Stenlake Publishing, 1996)
Rough Fell Sheep Breeders Association, Kendal Rough Fell Sheep (Stramongate Press, 2006)
Smith, Colin, A guide to Milestones, Mileposts and Tollbuildings of Cumbria (Brow Bottom Enterprises, 2011)
Smith, George, Dreadful Storm in Cumberland (Gentleman’s Magazine V24, 1754)
Stockdale, James, Annals of Cartmel (William Kitchen, 1872)
Swallow, Bob, Against the Grade (Great Northern Books, 2011)
Tyler, Ian, Thirlmere Mines and the Drowning of the Valley (Smith Settle, 1999)
Whitehall, Penny, Smardale Summers (Heathdene Publications, 2014)
Wilson, Richard Saul, The History of Cumberland Volume 2 (Richard Wilson, 1905)
Woods, Jack, The North Road (J Woods, 1996)
Wright, Joseph, The English Dialect Dictionary V3 (Henry Frowde, 1905)
Archaeology UK  
British History Online
English Lakes
Fell and Rock Climbing Club
Herdwick Breeders Association
Honister Slate Mine
Kentmere Village
Northern Viaduct Trust
The Megalithic Portal
The Wainwright Society

Miscellaneous Papers
LANCASTER ENVIRONMENT CENTRE, Rare Fish Monitoring Report, March 2011
Report of the proceedings of the trial of John Hatfield for Forgery – By “A shorthand writer” Printed by B Mace London 1803
High Borrowdale: The history of a Westmorland Farm – researched by Cynthia Gregg for Friends of the Lake District
Proceedings of the society of antiquaries of London. November 23, 1899, to June 20, 1901. Second series, vol. Xviii. Feinted by j. B. Nichols and sons.
An Act for Widening, Repairing, and Amending the Road from Hesket, by Yewes Bridge, to Cockermouth; and from thence, by Lorton over Whinlatter, to Keswick, in the County of Cumberland; and from Keswick, by Dunmail Rays and Ambleside, to Kirby in Kendall, in the County of Westmoreland; and from Plumgarth's Cross, near Kirkby in Kendall aforesaid, to the Lake called Windermere, in the County of Westmoreland; and from Keswickaforesaid, to the Town of Penrith, in the County of Cumberland – (Act of Parliament 1762)


CREDIT FOR Gimmer Crag sketch – “C. Douglas Milner FRCC Guide Book. Mountain Heritage Collection”

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

I blame my mum...

Me & mum on a Welsh mountain circa 1977
I blame my mum for a lot of things - my mile wide stubborn streak, my incessant need to know how and why things work and my extreme lack of patience.  I can also blame her for my sense of adventure - she used to take us surfing in the pouring rain (the rain wasn't a pre-requisite but neither was it ever to be seen as a deterrent), she dragged us up countless Welsh mountains and onto pretty much every roller coaster in Blackpool and beyond.  (You can't blame her for my writing though, for that the finger points firmly at my maternal granddad and my godawful sense of humour comes from my dad.)

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, these days she's not great on her legs and really struggles to get around which is frustrating for 2 main reasons.  Firstly because when she comes to visit us there's not a lot of stuff around here that she's able to do and secondly because her sense of adventure is still firmly in tact and she's frustrated that she can't get to see waterfalls or big sweeping views from the felltops.

In the past I've glibly blogged about the challenges of finding stuff to do when she visits when what I could perhaps have been doing was shouting a bit more about how providers of services dictate what should and should not be accessible to those with mobility issues.  This all became wholly apparent to me yesterday when we were invited to the pre-launch day of a new all terrain wheelchair known as the Terrain Hopper GTR.

The invite came from Debbie North who was a keen hiker and hill walker before she became a wheelchair user.  Debbie now dedicates her time to promoting true accessibility for all by way of the Terrain Hopper.  After spotting the vehicle by chance on an edition of Look North in 2014, Debbie quickly made contact with the inventors Sam and Deborah Dantzie, put the vehicle through its paces and promptly vowed to complete the  Coast to Coast route from St Bees to Robin Hood's Bay during 2015 (Honestly, if you click on no other links in this blog, click on that one)

The launch event was held at the beautiful Irton House Farm in the shadow of Skiddaw with breathtaking views along Bassenthwaite Lake - all of the accommodation is immaculate and wheelchair friendly.  (Plus after the event they pointed us to the The Craggs cafe in Bothel for fab food at really reasonable prices and plenty of wheelchair access.)

Mum kept insisting that she was nervous about the whole thing, but that didn't stop her immediately getting into one and taking off around a nearby field laid out as an obstacle course.  For someone who has never even driven a car she was soon whizzing around over mock bridges, zig-zagging through slalom poles and even taking flight over a giant see-saw.

All those years spent watching Dukes of Hazard finally pays off!

The vehicles are intuitive to use, robust, well balanced, tremendous fun and, for those whose bodies can't keep up with their adventurous spirits, absolutely life changing.  Most people who read this blog enjoy tearing up and down the fells but what if, god forbid, all that suddenly ended tomorrow due to illness or injury, what then?  Until the Terrain Hopper came along it would have been tough luck.

Made for mud.
"What about Trampers?" I hear you cry?  Well they're OK for what they're intended for - gentle woodlands and parks - but there's no chance of getting one up a fell.  As I type this a group of Terrain Hoppers is on their way to the top of Skiddaw again - they really do open up the fells for everyone.  What's frustrating is that the National Trust, Forestry Commission etc. think that Trampers are enough and won't consider investing in Terrain Hoppers to hire out to those who want something rather more adventurous.

Like mother, like daughter

Think of it like shoes - you have shoes you go to work in, shoes for gentle toddles and shoes for proper big hikes.  Mobility Scooters are your "shoes" for work and shopping, Trampers are your "shoes" for gentle outdoor toddles and Terrain Hoppers are your "shoes" for going up the fells in.  One isn't necessarily better than the other, they are all perfect for their environment.  Wouldn't it be great if all the "shoes" were available to those who wanted them rather than having an organisation tell us that the only "shoes" we can have access to don't suit what we want to do with them?

Terrain Hoopers aren't expensive executive toys, they are a fantastic opportunity to open up the fells to everyone with an adventurous spirit and a true life changer for those who need them.  Of course my biggest challenge now is keeping mum away from the Coast to Coast route...

Last seen heading for Robin Hood's Bay...

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Air horns & a rear gunner...

Day 1 of Legless in the Lakes round 2 and we've played our "garden centre " card already.  Hayes Garden World in Ambleside is an easy option for the less mobile though life would be a lot simpler if their loos were nearer to the cafĂ© instead of the far side of the building - when you're slow on your feet it's all too easy to get locked into a neverending "coffee - loo - coffee" cycle as by the time you've reached one, you need the other again.  

Having resisted all the Christmas paraphernalia we piled into the car and headed for Keswick. Abandoning any hope of finding a disabled parking spot we convinced mum to use the wheelchair and headed for a secret parking spot on the edge of town... To say Keswick isn’t disabled friendly is an understatement - but it's something you just don't appreciate until you're trying to navigate the town with a wheelchair.  At one point we had to abandon the pavement altogether due to the lack of dropped kerbs and take our chances on the busy roads - hence my need for air horns & a rear gunner, though they would have come in useful in Booth's too.

The upsides of the day were the beautiful autumn colours & the tasty cakes at Booth's, the downside was definitely the traffic - something we usually manage to avoid when we're hiking.

Not sure where we're headed tomorrow but we'll be off just as soon as I've finished a couple of essential modifications...

Irony: "Remember the true meaning" angels
in the middle of a pile of "Frozen" Christmas

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Love at first sight

On the wall in our bedroom, amidst a collage of other photos, is a picture of me and Steve.  It's a pretty awful photo, grainy and a little out of focus, but I keep it there because it was taken early on in the evening at a party where we eventually shared our first kiss. (I'll pause there for you to go and get a bucket/ tissue).  Of course I'm still madly in love with the poor man, but there's nothing quite like remembering the night you met, the first time you kissed and the way your heart skipped a beat.  It's a feeling that's difficult to recapture, which is why I keep the photo there to remind me.

I've talked before about my first visit to the Lake District being in August 2010, but that's not entirely accurate as the three rather dreadful photos below prove.  Written on the back of them it says "Geology Field Trip, Shap, Lake District, July 1984"  (Forgive the quality, they were taken on a disc camera - anyone remember them?)

I really can't claim it was love at first sight that time - I do recall it was a day trip (from Walsall) so the visit would have been brief.  I also remember everything being flat and then these huge mountains rising up on the right hand side of the minibus - I'm assuming those were the Howgills - but other than that it didn't leave a lasting impression. Maybe because I had a huge teenage crush on my geology teacher at the time (NOT the one in the photo I hasten to add!) and spent most of the trip staring at him in doe eyed adulation.

I didn't properly fall for Cumbria until August 2010, when the geology teacher was safely out of the way and me and Steve began planning our new life.

Falling in love on/ with Helvellyn
These days, however often I remind myself how lucky we are to live here, we inevitably, to some extent, take our environment more for granted than when we first moved here.  In the same way that I still love Steve but my heart doesn't always skip the same beat it did the night we met.  You appreciate each other but you sort of get used to each other.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to spend both Saturday and Sunday seeing the area through other people's eyes for the first time again and it was fabulous!  On the Saturday I spent time with a group of lovely ladies being guided by Helen Venus (aka Wild Rambling) as they explored Arnside and Silverdale (the previous week she'd had a group getting to grips with Eskdale) and on the Sunday I dragged some lovely friends of ours up Halls Fell Ridge on Blencathra.

Rather than me try to tell you what it was like for them, I'll turn the rest of the blog over to them and let them remind you what it's like the first time you clap eyes on the fells - and maybe your heart will skip a beat again, like mine does whenever I see that old photo of me and Steve.

Arnside Knott - Caroline Blair

This view is from the summit of Arnside Knott. There is a sense of the natural beauty, the eye being drawn to the water channel and to the hills in the distance. A feeling of space and of calm. We sat here for some 15 minutes in sheer silence. The soul at one with the beauty, the mind calm.

Relishing the tranquillity, steeping away from everyday pressures. Pure enjoyment!

Eskdale - Bertie

I couldn't believe that these contrasting  views could be seen on the same day & not a road in sight!  From Midlands a girl (we DO have wonderful countryside here but nothing to compare with this)

Morecambe Bay - Helen Venus

The first time I saw Morecambe Bay from Jack Scout, the sun was shining and it looked like a Mediterranean beach. On closer inspection it was muddy, not sandy but that really sums it up – it’s just not like anywhere else.

Whinn Rigg - Ruth

Breathtaking view of Wastwater. We seemed to be right above it. But to my surprise it was BLUE because of the fabulous weather, not the bottomless black I remember from the past. Won't forget this view in a hurry.

Caz & Ian Stewart - Blencathra

Going up Blencathra with friends was amazing – a totally new perspective from going up and coming down.  Both were stunning in different ways - the danger of going up on all fours and the beauty of walking down through fields and recreating the scene from Gladiator in the meadow.  Very hard to put into words because it just doesn't do it justice, to be honest the pictures don't do it justice either - I encourage everyone to go and you won't regret it.

Halls Fell Ridge


Not Blencathra

Sunday, 11 October 2015

It's the little things...

On Sat 10th October we took part in the Real 3 Peaks Challenge - an idea initiated by Mountain Training Association (MTA) members  Rich Pyne, Kate Worthington and Kelvyn James.  Each year around October time (when most challenges are over and done with) the three of them rally other like minded MTA members and co-ordinate litter cleaning crews on each of the peaks on the "3 Peaks Challenge" route - Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon - to clear up all the rubbish left behind.  Clearly these aren't the only 3 mountains that suffer with a litter problem, but because they attract more visitors, they attract more litter.

It would be very easy at this point to slam the 3 Peaks Challenges but the reality is they raise a huge amount of money for charity and encourage folks, who wouldn't normally venture to the tops of the high fells, to push their limits and discover some fantastic scenery along the way.  The problem is that some of the events aren't as well put together as they could be and a huge amount of litter gets left behind.

On Scafell Pike, because it's the night route for most challengers, the route up from Wasdale is littered with abandoned glow sticks and marker tape - the guidance for using these items is simple: if you take it up with you, bring it back down again.

Our group headed up from the Langdale Valley, meeting with the other 2 groups (1 from Seathwaite and 1 from Wasdale) on the top for lunch.  One of the other groups found an enormous abandoned tent and we all had depressingly similar stories to tell about the things we'd found along the way.

In previous years the big and obscure finds have made the news - the octopus on the top of Scafell Pike last year for example - but having been part of this years litter pick we found that not that many people carry an octopus and it's all the little stuff that really causes the problems, things like...

  • Fag ends
  • White tissues
  • Clear plastic tops from water bottles
  • 1 cm long plastic seals from water bottles
  • The corner from a pack of sweets
  • Orange peel
  • Banana peel
  • Chewing gum (which according to Keep Britain Tidy can take 1 million years to decompose!)
  • Boiled sweet wrappers
There's a great time lapse video here from Mike Raine (@Mikerraine) showing what happens to banana skins an orange peel when left to decompose.  When you watch it bear in mind that this was taken at a low altitude - the higher you go up, the longer it takes.

Looking to Scafell Pike
We also found a range of less savoury items such as poo, used tampons and a used condom (possibly from someone who confused mountain safety with mounting safely).  Moving a few stones on the cairns usually revealed items tucked away in an "out of sight, out of mind" way - plastic bottles, glass bottles, sardine tins, more poo bags etc. - but hiding it doesn't mean it isn't there and by the end of the day our team, on the quietest of the 3 routes, had gathered around 30Kg of rubbish.

One of the nicer sides to the day was the number of people who paused to say thank you to us for our efforts - especially the fell runner who passes us at Esk Hause having run all the way up from the Langdale Valley.

If you want to join in next year's Real 3 Peaks Challenge you can follow their Facebook page here and, in the meantime, if you see any litter on your hikes pick up what you can even if it's just 1 piece of plastic; as one famous supermarket would say "every little helps".

There really is no big or complicated message here - just take your litter home with you - it's not difficult.

The 3 litter crews n the summit
Great Gable - one of my favourite fells.

Lovely flock of Herdies on the way down

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

LOVE Morecambe Bay

On Sunday 4th October 2015 Lancashire and Morecambe Bay took centre stage on Countryfile (BBC 1 6:15pm) - you may even have caught a brief glimpse of me if you were quick!

I'm just a teeny part of a big piece about the fantastic Morecambe Bay Cycleway which we whizzed around back in June - well I say whizzed, we plodded mainly and ate a lot of cake, but I digress...  Morecambe Bay is the most fantastic place for wildlife, skies, recreation, walks, hikes, relaxing, kite surfing, cycling etc. etc. etc. but it will only stay that way if we all look after it properly and helping us to do just that are the lovely folks at LOVEmyBEACH.

A lot of what they have to say and do isn't sexy as it revolves around toilets, sewage and litter, but what they do do (sorry, toilet humour.. :-) ) is help spread the message about the things we can ALL do to help protect our beaches and waterways wherever we live.  So, against a backdrop of pictures of lovely Morecambe Bay and surrounding waterways, here are the top 10 things we can do to help:

1.  Think before you flush - the 3 Ps only should be going down the loo - Pee, Poo and Paper.  Everything else needs to be binned and disposed of separately ESPECIALLY cotton buds.  Thousands of them get through our sewage system each year and end up on the beaches injuring wildlife.  (I've been banging on about that one since 2010!)

2. No oils or fats etc. to go down the sink as they can cause blockages and leakages allowing all sorts of nasty stuff to seep into our groundwater and rivers.  As a general guide, if you don't fancy swimming in it, don't put it down the sink.

3.  Make sure all your plumbing and drainage is connected properly.  You may be super green and environmentally friendly, but if the folks who put in your drainage were muppets your grey water (washing up etc.) could be heading straight for your nearest river.

4.  Bag and bin your dog poo.  Don't leave it lurking on beaches or flick it into a nearby river and definitely don't bag it and hang it on the nearest tree like a stinky Christmas decoration.

5.  If you have a septic tank make sure it's properly serviced and checked for leaks etc. to ensure there is no nastiness oozing out while you're not looking.

6.  Get a water butt for the garden to collect rainwater.  Not only does this help when watering the garden it also reduces the amount of surface run off heading into the sewers.

7.  Put your litter in a bin or take it home with you.  Honestly - do we really still need to be telling people that?  I'm gob smacked by the number of folks who think it's fine to picnic on the beach then leave it all there when they're done.  If you can carry it there, you can carry it back.  Litter has a huge affect on local wildlife and notso local wildlife - if you leave in on the beach and the tide gets it, it could end up anywhere.

8.  Go to a beach clean - you'll learn loads, make new friends and burn off TONS of calories. Better than the gym any day!  Check out the LOVEmyBEACH events page to find one near you.

9.  Go talk to your boss.  There's a whole page of things that businesses could be doing to support the project and protect the local environment and customers LOVE that stuff so earn yourself some brownie points by bringing it up at your next team meeting.

10.  Spread the word - share this post, share the LOVEmyBEACH web page, follow them on Twitterstalk them on FB - share their posts and tell your friends.  None of us has to change the world but if we all do our own little bit we can help keep the waters around us shiny clean and floater free.