Well what an amazing few weeks I’ve just spent in the UK. I plan on writing about some my activities individually but until then, here is a brief summary.
Firstly there was the Olympics, as if you could have avoided it! Whatever you think of the lavish spectacle and the associated politics and controversial issues, the Olympics happened and there was a nice feel-good vibe around most of the towns and villages surrounding the Dorney Rowing Lake where some of the Olympic events were taking place. At lunch time after the main events had finished, there were people turning out in all sorts of Union Jack, nae Union Flag attire to fill some of the more “well-to-do” bars and eateries in Eton and Windsor. However, there was a stark contrast between how the more “affluent” towns adorned their high streets and other towns in the area. I am hoping to be able to show you more of this shortly in a separate project but as yet, I’m not convinced it holds together well so maybe not.
More important and personal to me was my daughter Heather’s four-week course and the resulting charity event that took place last Thursday in Maidenhead. Groundwork Fixers is part of the UK government’s initiative called the National Citizen Service which aims to enable young people to develop new skills and encourage them to become active in their local community. The first two weeks were residential and comprised team-bonding type activities with the first week being in the Longridge Activity Centre, Marlow. The third week was spent discussing and developing an idea for a community project and the fourth week was spent working on that project. The chosen community project was Speak Out which aims to raise awareness of domestic abuse issues, this is their Facebook page. The Speak Out Summer Fayre raised £715 and hopefully spread their message.
There were various visits to places of natural and man-made beauty, including the Jubilee river which I have written about several times.
The Jubilee River is a 12 km long drainage channel constructed in the late 1990s and early 2000s to take overflow from the River Thames and so alleviate flooding to areas in and around the towns of Maidenhead, Windsor and Eton. There was an amazing amount of controversy that surrounded the design and construction of this, the largest project of its kind (to date) in the UK, it involved many technical, ecological and social issues, including extensive compulsory purchases. Although man-made, the Jubilee River is home to a wide variety of wild-life which includes green woodpeckers, kingfishers, cormorants, lapwings and my favourite UK birds of prey, red kites.
The red kite at one stage was almost extinct in the UK but several breeding programmes have successfully re-introduced the species. In all honesty, I’m not sure what I think about meddling in nature to this extent. I have read reports that as all breeding programmes were a success the numbers are so high that they are turning to stealing food from people’s hands – good for them I say but it’s a worry that the indications are that there isn’t enough natural food if they have resort to this… or maybe it’s just easier(?). I’m sure a good potential discussion could be had here.
Because I was “trying” to travel light, I didn’t have my longer lens so I’ve had to make do, LOL!
The rest of my time was spent visiting family and I was glad for the unusual opportunity of seeing all of my sisters in one day… which was nice 🙂 My most unusual encounter during my time in the UK must have been the bearded dragons… unusual but very nice.
…just reading the above and it sort of reads like a “round robin” letter, LOL!! Ah well, more later…