Archive for 18/02/2014


Rethinking Childhood

Just before Christmas, I was helping out at an after-school play session in a community centre in Tower Hamlets in East London. Eight-year-old Jane arrived, took a plastic mug from the kitchen, sat down at a table near me, and started clapping her hands and the table, and tapping and flipping the cup, in a repetitive, rhythmic routine.

Cup on a table in front of a boy

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The official blog for the North York Moors National Park

Ami Walker – Land Management Adviser

Places like the North York Moors National Park may at first glance seem like areas of wild, natural beauty, but in reality they are largely managed landscapes. As a Conservation Land Management Adviser working on the Habitat Connectivity – Linking Landscapes Programme (“bigger, better, more connected”), I work with farmers and landowners to encourage and assist them in managing their land in a way that maintains and improve conditions for our native wildlife.

My week is usually a mix of sitting at a desk and being out and about in the North York Moors (no prizes for guessing which I prefer). By far the best bit of my job is the people I come into contact with. The North York Moors is a tough environment to farm in but we are blessed with some wonderful characters who have a deep sense of pride in what…

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Municipal Dreams

Manchester has been described as the ‘shock city’ of the Industrial Revolution and if you lived in Ancoats it was, indeed, pretty shocking.  Ancoats was the world’s first industrial suburb – factories and workshops cheek by jowl with mean terraces of back-to-back working-class housing and courts.

Ancoats in the 1870s Ancoats in the 1870s

In 1889, a report by Dr John Thresh on 36 acres lying off Oldham Rd detailed 25 streets, many less than 17ft wide, and housing, mostly over 70 years old.  The area contained over 50 courts; one third of houses were back-to-back.   A death rate of over 80 per 1000 led to his dry statistical conclusion that ‘3000 to 4000 people [were] dying annually here in Manchester from remediable causes. (1)

The City Council declared it an ‘Unhealthy Area’ and determined to clear and rebuild.  A total of 1250 people were displaced and 239 dwellings demolished.

Manchester City Council had…

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chaffinch‘In sheltered spots the colours now return.

Brave crocuses and aconites of gold

Form brilliant carpets on the dreary floor

Of winter borders. In the woods unfold

The spikes of cuckoo pint, now showing more

And brighter green than hardy fronds of fern.

There’s colour, too, where tits and finches fly,

Attired already for the affairs of spring.

And, welcome even more, on oak branch high

As daylight fades a thrush begins to sing.

The hazel catkins shiver in the breeze,

In yellow clouds pale pollen drifts away.

A thousand starlings pass above the trees,

And silvered silk the willow wands display.’

John (Jack) Kett

from ‘A Late Lark Singing’ (Minerva Press1997)

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