Counting on …day 395

2nd December 2022 

Seagrass, the only flowering marine plant, grows in the shallower waters of our seas and oceans as it is reliant on sunlight  for photosynthesis. Where it is well established it forms meadows where its roots stabilises sediment on the seabed preventing erosion. Its roots also oxygenate the sediments supporting many burrowing organisms. As it grows it sequesters carbon dioxide and does so at rates 10 to 40 higher than that of forests! It provides food, breeding grounds and nurseries for many marine species – from seahorses to seals, dog fish and octopus. 

However world wide seagrasses are under threat. These marine meadows are damaged and destroyed by  sewage and chemical effluents, by algal blooms that restrict sunlight penetrating the water and so preventing  photosynthesis,  by mechanical damage from anchor chains, marine vessels, and dredging  as well as from over-fishing which disturbs the balance of the ecosystem. It is estimated that the UK has lost 95% of its seagrass meadows. 

The Segrass Ocean Rescue project is planting 5 million seagrass seeds off the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd and Anglesey, with the aim of creating 10 hectares (25 acres) of seagrass meadow by the end of 2026.

Counting on … day 393

30th November 2022

Another food associated with Scotland are oatcakes. I make these on the days when I am baking bread as they can go in the oven whilst the oven is warming up to the high temperature needed for the bread.

Oatcakes

In a bowl mix 2 tablespoons of flour (white, wholemeal, spelt or rye) and 8 tablespoons of oatmeal. Add a half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda and a generous tablespoon of oil. If you wish, add a little salt/ black pepper/ chopped rosemary. 

Add sufficient boiling water to bind to a stiff dough.

Grease a baking tray and spread out the dough into a large rectangle (about 30x25cm) either patting it with well floured hands or using a rolling pin. 

Cut the dough into about 16 pieces (you don’t need to separate them as the mixture doesn’t spread).

Bake for 20 minutes or until firm at about 160-200C. Cool on the tray before removing to any air tight tin.

As a variation you incorporate sunflower or chia seeds etc. 

Counting on …. Day 392

29th November 2022

Tomorrow is the feast of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland. Here is a recipe for vegan haggis, not entirely my own, but  having no note of the original recipe, I cannot credit its creator.

Haggis. Serves 2-3

50g  Puy lentils

50g pearl barley

oil 

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

75g portobello mushrooms, finely chopped

½ tsp ground allspice

 ½ tsp ground black or white pepper

90g pinhead oatmeal

½ tbsp marmite

1½ tbsp brown sauce or treacle

Sauté the onion and carrot in a little oil till soft. Add the mushrooms and the spices. If need be add a little more oil.

Add the barley and lentils. Add about 400ml hot water and yeast extract. Feel free to add a sprig of thyme. 

Simmer until the mixture is very thick, adding more water if necessary. 

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

Stir in the oatmeal and brown sauce and tip into a greased loaf tin and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30. 

Leave for five minutes, then turn out and serve.

Counting on … day 392

28th November 2022 (this is rerun of a post from last year)

Bike is best!” Whether you are young or old or somewhere in between.  Whether you are able bodied  or disabled. Whether you are super fit or just starting out. Whether it’s simply  for leisure or for  getting from A to B. Whether it is for deliveries or commuting or the school ‘run’.  

Active travel reduces carbon emissions, improves air quality and aids healthy living. What’s not to like?

And what is included in active travel? – walking, wheeling and cycling. The following extract comes from Wheels of Wellbeing, a charity  that promotes cycling for people with disabilities.

Walking:  foot/pedestrian-based mobility that may incorporate the support of aids to mobility such  as stick/s, cane/s, crutch/es, the arm of another person and/or assistance animal/s.

Wheeling: an equivalent alternative to foot/pedestrian-based mobility. Includes wheeled mobilities such as manual self- or assistant-propelled wheelchairs, including wheelchairs with power attachments or all-terrain attachments (such as the “Freewheel”), powered wheelchairs, mobility scooters (three and four-wheeled) and rollators. Some people rely on their cycle to move (at a pedestrian’s pace) through pedestrianised environments when it is not physically possible to walk/push their cycle. Some people use their cycle as a walking aid, by leaning on it (do not use crutches but need to lean in order to walk, due to pain etc. – they can dismount but cannot park their cycle). Some people use e-scooters (with or without a seat), to wheel/scoot through pedestrianised environment if they cannot walk unaided.

We recommend never using ‘walking’ on its own (as it likely reinforces ableist stereotypes in people’s minds) but always using ‘walking/wheeling’ together. Both words represent the action of moving at a pedestrian’s pace, whether or not someone is standing or sitting, walking/wheeling unaided or using any kind of aid to mobility, including walking aids / wheeled aids, personal assistants or support animals.

Cycling:  incorporates the action of moving at speed on a wide range of pedal- powered wheeled transport that may be powered with hands and/or feet, may transport one or more person, may or may not include e-assist and usually have between 2 and 4 wheels. 

https://wheelsforwellbeing.org.uk/walking-wheeling-and-cycling-definitions/embed/#?secret=7xNzMjwypv

Counting on … day 391

26th November 2020

My apologies for yet another link to a petition but the situation feels grave.

This one is calling in the Government to stop the development of the Rosebank oil field in the North Sea. Personalising your letter does help as you can relate the letter to,your own fears and concerns. Mine included my daughter’s assertion that she does not think she will reach the age my husband has because the climate crisis will, through widespread famine, so disrupt life on earth.

Counting on …day 389

25th November 2022

This item from today’s Guardian made me smile.

‘150 sheep arrived in Pompeii on Thursday morning and immediately got to work munching away in an unexcavated section of Regio V, a vast area to the north of the archaeological park. As part of a nine-month experiment, the flock will also be deployed to trim other grassed areas as well as maintain ancient and new vineyards as park authorities seek to boost the production of Pompeii wine.

“They entered the site with great enthusiasm and got to work straight away,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, the director of the Pompeii archaeological park. “Maintenance is a huge cost, so instead of paying someone to cut the grass we have sheep eating it, fertilising it and creating a pastoral landscape that is much more resistant to dry seasons and heavy rainfall.”’ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/nov/24/pompeii-deploys-flock-of-hungry-sheep-to-keep-grass-short?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

Counting on …day 388

24th November 2022

One group who can actively limit investment in fossil fuels is our Government. In order to explore new oil and gas fields in British waters, oil companies need a government licence. According to a report in the Guardian ‘The North Sea Transition Authority has begun a process to award more than 100 licences to companies hoping to extract oil and gas in the area. Almost 900 locations are being offered up for exploration.’  https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/oct/07/uk-offers-new-north-sea-oil-and-gas-licences-despite-climate-concerns

As new licences have not yet been issued (the current round of bids will end in June 2023) there is still time to persuade the Government to think again about the wisdom of this  venture. You can help by signing this parliamentary petition to  prevent  all new North Sea oil and gas exploration

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/627208

Counting on …day 387

23rd November 2022

Make My Money Matter campaigns on the issue of where are money is invested and how,it is used when we’re not. We may not think of ourselves as investors but the money we have in our bank, the money we pay for our pension, our mortgage, our insurance policies, is invested on our behalf to cover future payments. Such investments can be ethical and sustainable – or not. At the current time many large institutions are investing heavily on fossil fuels and plastics, thus feeling  the climate crisis.

Make My Money Matter is inviting us to sign an open letter to the major banks asking them to invest in ventures other than those that are oil based.

http://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/openletter/

Counting on … day 385

21St November 2022

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the USA. Since at least the 1950s the day after Thanksgiving has been a popular shopping day with many people starting their Christmas shopping. Now actively marketed as Black Friday any businesses and stores use this advertising medium to encourage sales of their goods. Black Friday has expanded to include not just the Friday after Thanksgiving but the preceding days – and even preceding weeks. This pressure to buy is not helpful for the environment nor for our purses. We should be looking to buy and consume less and when do buy things we should be able to consider carefully what we need rather than being hustled to ‘buy now!’ For more on this do read this article from The Ethical Consumer.