- Posted by howies
- 1 April 2011
Colour so rich you can almost smell it.
Detail unmatched by any screen on Earth.
It’s like you can actually feel the wind prickle the sweat on your brow, as you plunge into the shade beneath the trees.
Because you can.
It’s a High Definition, Surround Sound experience like no other.
There’s only one thing better than a 3D IMAX Technicolor sunrise.
A real sunrise.
Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats.
The show is about to begin.
Illustration: Jenny Bowers
Time is ticking for the oldest cycling circuit in the country.
South London’s Herne Hill Velodrome is in danger of closing for good.
Quickly deteriorating, and suffering a lack of funding, the track and surrounding mtb trails are used by hundreds of children.
Olympic gold medallist Bradley Wiggins started his track career there aged 10. Now future champions race and train helped by a team of devoted coaches and volunteers. A campaign - Save The Velodrome - has been formed by a community based alliance of local residents and the cycling community. Keeping it going will require funding - both corporate and private, as well as ongoing voluntary support.
Perhaps fuelled by a tough economy, and a wider interest in health, cycling seems to be enjoying a resurgence at the moment though - and as more and more people realise the benefits of riding for both their hearts and pockets, this campaign seems to be perfectly timed. So to help keep this important venue alive, please visit savethevelodrome.com and register your support.
With thanks to Judith, Jason and Peter.
It’s easy to think, when you gaze out into the wild Atlantic, that you are confronting a wilderness free from the processes, laws and weirdness of the modern world.
At one level, of course, you are. No human hand or institution can properly tame the watery portion of the planet, which is of course the greatest in volume and area. But at another level, the apparently unruly ebb, flow and shudder of the seas is as much about us stand-up monkeys as the geophysics of the elements.
Ever since the age of exploration when human empires scoured the edges of the known world to claim territory, plunder goods and subjugate peoples, we have imposed definitions, laws – not to mention the product of our own frailties – on the ocean. We have along the way changed the nature of the floating world.
We’ve spent the last couple of centuries imposing the laws of the landlocked highways on the oceans whilst at the same time throwing our crap over the sides of our boats – and all the while arguing over the spoils. Our beaches are strewn with the evidence of our carelessness – like the pristine hedges along the country lane besmirched by jettisoned cans of Red Bull and tubes of Pringles.
Millions of tonnes of waste are thrown over the side of commercial shipping every year. International crews sail on ships under ‘flags of convenience’ under which no human rights, health and safety or environmental regulation are enforced. They are under no legal obligation to do anything other than chuck their rubbish, their waste, and the excess baggage over the side.
But it’s not only irresponsible sailors who are causing the problem of this toxic jetsam. The cruise ship industry has been booming for the last twenty years. These floating cathedrals of consumption, carrying as many as 5000 people at a time, are adept at leaving a toxic trail of untreated sewage in their wakes.
According to Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) who have called on the cruise industry to make the necessary investment to introduce onboard sewage treatment solutions, only a very few ships to date have made a commitment to do so.
Loopholes in current legislation mean that sewage and other waste continues to be discharged to sea, even from ships sailing under the British flag.
Coastal fauna is damaged and marine wildlife destroyed – and the unsuspecting recreational water user (that’s you and me) is put at risk.
The seemingly unstoppable tide of plastic, which it has been estimated can stick around in the ocean for as much as 500 years, is increasing in volume every year. Some scientists have calculated that there can be no beaches left on the entire planet – even in the furthest flung islands of Polynesia, that aren’t strewn with plastic waste.
Join the Surfers Against Sewage campaign to rage against the toxic tides:
- Posted by howies
- 1 December 2009
I want my dog to eat proper, decent food, something that I would not mind serving up every day and wouldn’t have to hold at arms’ length. Something that would look lovely in my kitchen cupboard and didn’t feel that it needed to be segregated into its own ‘pet food’ cupboard where all the hanging out tongues on the front of the packages could hang out together.
After my dog just refused to eat any food I bought for her, I decided I needed to take the matter into my own hands and cook her up some yummy food that she couldn’t possibly resist.
And that’s how it all started... I needed a delicious food in a handy – recyclable – container that I would love feeding her every day. Humans love caring for and nurturing their best friends and feeding her something that she so obviously enjoys was an important part of our relationship.
The Pet Food industry is a huge, faceless industry run by four major FMCG’s. It’s on a massive 4 million cans-an-hour scale. It’s an industry that runs its spreadsheets to 4 decimal points as each 10th of a penny makes a big difference to the profit margin.
It’s worth knowing that an aluminium tin bought straight from the aluminium maker costs 15p. The biggest selling pet food in the UK retails for 57p a tin – running the numbers back, this would equate to around 3p of ingredients per tin. Not very appetising.
Looking down the biscuit aisle or the ice cream counter and gazing at all the amazing ingredients we are now so conversant in – spelt flour, cardamom, organic lemon oil, lavender flowers makes you realise how far we’ve come from Raspberry Ripple and Neapolitan flavours. The food industry in general in the UK has transformed beyond recognition from where we were, say just 5 years ago.
But the pet food industry has been stuck in a time warp where price has been the one and only driver. As consumers we have been drummed into asking, ‘Where’s the discount?’. Drive through any town and see how many signs you find for ‘Discount Pet Foods Sold Here’.
How have we, a nation of pet lovers, got to the stage where we are on a mission to feed our best friends the cheapest food available, without questioning how is it possible to make something remotely nutritious for a few pence?
As well as the conversation around ingredients, there’s also the eco angle: pet food packaging is one of the biggest landfill offenders. Obsession with convenience has led to many pet foods now being sold in pouches – which will never breakdown – three layers of reinforced foil and plastic that withstand the cooking process at very high temperatures are not designed to breakdown, even after hundreds of years. Even those large bags of dry food are made from plastics that are not recyclable.
It’s time to really look at what goes into pet food. How have we been so gullible! I fed Lily for a long time on a variety of mass produced food without ever questioning the juicy pictures of plump vegetables, gravy and succulent pieces of meat on the label. It was only when she went on hunger strike that I really took the time to see what was behind the label.
After 18 months of bad skin, itchy ears and general listlessness, I talked to my brother – a vet – and decided I had to do something about this. There must be people out there who would be happy to buy a proper meal for their pet! A cappuccino sets me back £2.70 – more than a day’s worth of yummy food for my dog.
We turned the paradigm around by asking – ‘How good can we make this’ not, ‘How cheap can we make this’. We added lots of vegetables, fruit, a dozen herbs and lots of good meat into each recipe and set out our stall.
Being a pet food evangelist has spread from Lily and I, to our customers…! We have so many emotional emails from them to say how thankful they are.
I just need to bring my teenage daughter round – she still finds it hard to tell her friends what her Mum does for a living: “Mum – I CAN’T tell them you make pet food”!
Sometimes you go to another country, and it looks like everything’s upside-down. But as you get to know more, you wonder if maybe they’re the right way up – and it’s the rest of us who are topsy-turvy.
Sweden’s famous for its high taxes. Most Swedes pay between 49% and 60% of their salary in tax.* It’s the second-highest tax burden in the world.
So why are they so cheerful? 91% of them say they’re happy, which puts them current equal second on the world happiness scale. The UK comes in at number nine.**
To many Brits, this looks like a contradiction. How can Swedes be worse off than us, and still be happier? The answer is, of course, that they’re not worse off. They just have a different attitude to tax. The Swedes have a very neighbourly, co-operative outlook. Instead of the state being something that just siphons off your cash, they see it as a protective roof over everyone’s head. Paying taxes just means chipping in to pay for timber and nails and slates for the roof.
To Swedes, high taxes mean free schools (and school lunches). Free healthcare. Incredible maternity and paternity leave (new parents get a combined leave of 480 days, most of it at virtually full pay). Generous state pensions, child allowance and unemployment benefits. Nice, eh?
So could it be that higher taxes are actually a good thing? Well, at least it’s got us thinking.
* We got our figures from Wikipedia (of course), and this Observer article about tax in Sweden.
** Happiness figures from www.nationmaster.com
Try walking down the street when everyone else is going the other
way. Bummer. People tread on your toes. They barge. They mutter,
they tut, they glare. But when you get through, when you pop out into
the sunlight, it feels pretty good. There’s space. There’s no muttering.
You can breathe easy. You got there.
Where there are hills, there are bikes
Where there’s concrete, there are skateboarders
Where there’s toast, there’s butter
Where there’s tea, there are biscuits*
Where there are paddling pools, there’s laughter
Where there’s kids, there’s hope
Where there’s chickens, there’s eggs (and rats)
Where there’s fish, there’s otters
Where there’s common sense, there’s harmony
Where there’s words, there’s pictures
Where there’s work, there’s fun
Where there’s fun, there’s work
*except at howies