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Trying a hand a gig photography

I am not a natural photographer in the slightest. But photographing live music is challenging to the highest end of the photography scale. The low lighting, the fast movement, not wanting to distract the performers all culminates in a seemingly impossible project. I have seen many incredible gig photographs, but this quality comes with practice that I just don’t have. So when my friend asked me to be photographer at the gig she was hosting, I felt the pressure.

Looking through the photographs I did manage to take, I feel quite proud. Despite forgetting all I had learnt on my camera about aptitude, shutter speed and ISO, I think I did an ok job.

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Vegetarian myths and realities

Mid way through 2015, my newfound awareness of the meat industry began in the area of animal cruelty; as I discovered the inhumane methods used to bring animals from being full of life, to simply an ingredient on your plate. I saw graphic videos of cattle being slit at the throat, wriggling in pain as a last movement before death. I thought of a beef stew my mum used to make, I thought of pork chops and cottage pie, all the meals I didn’t fully enjoy, and the numerous times I had left my meat on my plate. That simple act to me now symbolised a life going to waste. My conscious was filled with guilt, I couldn’t see meat the same again. For some reason my brain had short-circuited all my life. I had never fully made the connection before that what was on my plate, used to be alive. I felt especial guilty towards cows. Cows are mammals. Humans are mammals. Their experience of pain is recognised in the same way ours is. Putting yourself in the mind of the suffering animal is heartbreaking.

It was at this point my learning on the topic expanded further afield than simply aspects of cruelty. Once you delve into the world against consuming animal products, you can find so much information that most people simply do not have any awareness of. The meat industry is inherently profit-driven, reliant upon consumers, so a lot of the truths behind its impacts are not desired to be discussed in popular discourse. One of these aspects is the affect of meat-eating on the environment.

I discovered some shocking facts, two of which really stuck in my mind.

  1. The meat industry produces more emissions and greenhouse gasses than all the worlds transport combined
  2. If all the land used for feeding and rearing livestock for meat and animal products was used for growth of human food, theoretically there would be no world hunger

Everybody talks about the environmental effects of transport. London has introduced low emission zones, car pooling is being encouraged, expansion at Heathrow has caused environmental outrage, all these things have appeared in  the news over recent years, yet I had never heard about the damage that meat was causing.

Cowspiracy, released in 2014, gained popularity as an educational insight into the devastating effects of meat consumption on the environment, particularly from cattle. This was a shocking new discovery for many people, pushing the idea that ‘meat = environmentally bad’ into common thought.

Quartz recently discussed this, presenting the idea that veganism as the most environmentally sustainable diet could actually be a myth, in the article “Do the math: Being vegan isn’t as good for humanity as you think”.

The article refers to a study conducted on various diets, from unrestricted to completely plant-based to determine what actually uses land in the most sustainable ways. “When applied to an entire global population, the vegan diet wastes available land that could otherwise feed more people”. Purdy, the writer, elaborates on this by explaining about land use. This perspective is something I had not read about, or really even thought about before. It seemed to make sense to see the idea ‘meat = environmentally bad’ as an absolute, without looking into the complexities.

Purdy cuts through the verbiage and lays out the types of land use, and the facts I had not seen become instantly clear – of course, not all land is suitable for arable use. Its not like we could magically turn all grazing land into fields yielding masses of crops to feed the nations. Land, and nature, simply doesn’t work that way. Using technology is an option, but ultimately in order to use land for food production, we need to adapt techniques to suit the land itself, not force the land to function exactly how we demand it to. In order to grow only the food that we can directly digest, to support a world of humans leading a plant-based diet, it is likely that more land would have to be found to support demand – leading to other troublesome problems such as deforestation.

It is difficult to predict how theoretical diets could make a difference to the world, and though the article outlines the negatives in going “whole-hog vegan”, it would almost never be the case that every person in the world would suddenly become vegan, rendering this theoretical situation almost irrelevant to an individual and their personal choice to go plant-based. When I became more aware of all these negatives of a meat filled diet, I felt it necessary to cut down on meat. But I then thought about this lax rule I was so near setting myself, and saw its lack of concreteness. If I was to give up meat entirely, this would give the benefits of about 4 people just cutting down. So though the Quartz article raises some extremely important points, using a reliable study to show an alternative to general belief; I wouldn’t take a message of ‘don’t become vegan’ or ‘veganism is bad’ away from it. Purdy does point this out, writing “of course, this is not an argument to embrace a meaty diet”. He simply is providing a fresh perspective on a repeatedly discussed topic, which I have noticed Quartz often do.

If the ideal diet for environmental efficiency, and the best for humanity in the long term is plant-based with a bit of meat on the side, then a combination of meat eaters restricting nothing, and whole-hog vegans is actually the ideal situation when thinking on a large scale. And with more and more discussion of vegan and vegetarian diets in popular discourse (see figure 1), and more plant-based alternatives on offer to buy, I can assume this is actually the direction in which we are heading. The world needs a level of pro-vegan awareness for various improvements including sustainability, but unfortunately, for a variety of reasons including many outside their control, this mentality is unlikely going to be adopted by every single person on the planet.

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Figure 1: Google trends search on the words ‘vegan’, ‘vegetarian’ and ‘plant based’

Back to me. I have recently realise that what I believed to be simply a love of cheese, is more of a dependancy. I find it difficult to comprehend how a meal could taste good without some cheesy element to it. The image I have included shows some of my recent favourite vegetarian meals, of which only 2 out of 9 escaped the grasp of my cheese addiction. Like they say however, the first step towards recovery is recognising the problem… so I intend, to an extent, to faze cheese out of my diet. It is unhealthy, and I need to get rid of my reliance to begin to explore and enjoy new flavours, particularly by consuming more vegetables. I have already eliminated milk from my diet, so cheese is the majority of the dairy I eat. If I cut this down I would be almost totally plant-based, with a few exceptions such as eggs and butter, just to make student life a little easier and cheaper. Living that lifestyle for me feels like the ideal – the best way I can be good to my body, to animals and to the environment. However, if everyone suddenly adopted these restrictions, it would certainly not be the most sustainable act for the environment.

There is so much to learn in exploring diets across the spectrum, each individual food, each ingredient has its own nutritional and environmental effects, and many foods can in some way be considered ‘cruel’. It is difficult to determine what exactly is the ideal diet, as years of various traditions, cultural changes health benefit rumours, marketing, trends and technological developments have caused constant changes to how different people view foods. I certainly would recommend a step towards the plant-based end of the spectrum. Vegetarianism for me has had a wealth of benefits, and I do feel like by cutting out some cruel food products, I am doing something good.

 

Chase Purdys article for Quartz: https://qz.com/749443/being-vegan-isnt-as-environmentally-friendly-as-you-think/

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Circuits

Reading this title makes me wish I was about to write a philosophical entry on the subject of how life experiences happen in circuits, bad times and good times come and go… That kind of thing. Unfortunately I am not feeling quite that insightful today. This post is about the exercise class, circuit training.

As we are nearing the end of January, I hope my words provide some kind of motivation to those who are somewhat lagging with their new years fitness resolutions. I feel that circuits, despite its difficulty, is an inclusive class, and its widespread popularity means it will surely be offered nearby.

The name of the class refers to the rotation between stations of different exercises, with the general format of the class being a warm up including running, jumping and other simple cardio followed by roughly minute at each station in the venue. Station exercises vary from more cardio like skipping and box jumps, dynamic weighted or unweighted moves like squats, lunges, air cycles or tricep dips, through to weight lifting moves like bench press or clean and press.

These aspects of the class, its accessibility and its variety, are two of the reasons I would recommend it to anyone.

For people with gym memberships, I have noticed that only some of you explore the area of exercise classes. For those that don’t, many classes, especially popular ones like circuits are available at many sports halls with one off costs. Another great thing about circuit training, and this is the same for other classes, is that they teach you. I for one often feel too self conscious to do independent free weights moves in the gym, and am envious of those who have the confidence to blast out various moves taking advantage of all the equipment. However, the exercises on offer at circuits teach you. You learn which moves target which areas, the weights you can handle for different moves, you better your technique and you can move all this learnt information into the gym or home environment to achieve your own personal goals. In my experience of at least 7 different circuit training classes, often they can include a spot of personal training. When the instructor sees you looking a bit clueless and confused, or using an incorrect technique, they will come over and offer help. It feels like a little [less-than-minute-long] personal training session, and really aids memory and motivation. Exercising next to someone so fit and strong just makes you want to push even harder and trust me you do feel the rewards.

Back in sixth form when I needed to get fitter for an expedition, I chose circuits as the class that would aid these goals, which it did. In September I returned to my old friend in a bid to get in better shape after a summer of road-tripping and drinking far too much beer. I have not been let down this time around either, finding my favourite of all of the classes I’ve ever tried, while also being the hardest (but most rewarding). I personally lack quite a lot of coordination, so following an instructors routine with the rest of the class all in sync just doesn’t quite agree with me. Isolating certain areas and working my whole body in a variety of moves though, that sounds much more appealing.

Circuit training moves quickly, your moves are constantly changing so boredom is not allowed. It proves you don’t need a gym membership to exercise, it tests your physical and also mental ability, teaches you and ultimately is a lot of fun. I would urge anyone on a fitness journey to give it a try, theres a reason its a classic.

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Wild Swimming 2016

At this time in early January, we love to discuss our resolutions, goals and plans for the year ahead. We avoid talking about the failed attempts of this time last year.. But we do feel a certain pride when something we set ourselves a year ago was achieved. I love wild swimming, in lakes, rivers and the sea. I was excited at the beginning of 2016 for the weather to warm and the season for optimum swimming opportunities to begin again. I wanted to explore many new swimming spots, including areas around the new city I was living in, Leeds. Over the year I took a lot of dips across England and further afield, which when I look at on a map I feel quite proud of, as I made special efforts to take part in an activity that makes me happy. Here are all of the ‘wild’ swims I did in 2016.

Hathersage Swimming Pool 

The wild swimming year began at the same time as the year itself for me, as some crazy people at Hathersage lido in the Peak District had organised a ‘new years dip’. Whilst all my friends were suffering from deathly hangovers in bed, I awoke fresh faced and ready for the blitzing cold that awaited us. Even though the pool temperature was 7° and the air temperature was barely above freezing, me and my friend braved the cold and shocked our bodies jumping into the cold water. With no wetsuits it was certainly a plunge experience for me, though I did manage to swim a few lengths. Plunging your body into cold water like that brings some kind of thrill, and even though it took us a hot shower, a good few hours, a lot of car heater and a fast paced walk on the hills to warm up; it was worth it for our brief ridiculous moment.

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January 1st 2016: water temperature 7 degrees.

Porth Beach

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This was my first sea swim of the year. It was early April and though the weather looks beautiful here, the water was freezing, which badly affected certain friends testicles… Porth beach is along the Newquay coastline in Cornwall. Newquay has a north-facing coastline which is a rougher sea than the southern coastline. Excellent for surfing, but not so great for us swimmers. Porth however, I would say is the best beach around Newquay for swimming. Its long headland shelters it from larger waves, and when the tide is in the water is calm, and you can swim to different rocky or sandy areas on either side of the beach. Thats on maybe a warmer day though. When we swam we couldn’t endure much more than a few minutes in the cold Atlantic ocean.

Carolines Lake, RSPB St Aidans

Now this swimming experience is a story in itself. When I first moved to Leeds I looked up close by wild swimming locations, and was waiting for the season to come about so I could visit a place that I’d been aware of since September 2015, Carolines Lake. It had a few reviews on wildswim.com so I knew it was legit, I even looked up the location on instagram to confirm that others had swum there, which they had. What I didn’t take note of was the dates of these posts…

I told my friends for my birthday I wanted to go swimming. I thought it would be really fun for everyone to do something unusual, since we spent most of our time playing pool or down the pub, (of course, the plan was to go to the pub afterwards – I didn’t want to go crazy with the unusual activities!). When we arrived at the lake however, we were greeted with this lovely message.

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This sign was swiftly torn from the gate it was weakly attached to and hidden from the rest of the group, not by myself I must add. No, we did inform everyone what the noticed had warned, but we took it as more of a ‘rumour’, than a serious message. People had swam here before right? It must be safe. I called up the RSPB st aidens (the nature reserve where the lake was located) and was greeted by an extemely confused lady at the other end of the phone.

“I’m at Carolines lake” I said. “Carolines who?” the woman responded. “The lake! Your lake Carolines lake”. “My mate who??”.

The lady did seem to say no swimming, but it was more for the reason of ‘why on earth do they want to do that’ than with any toxicity issues. After attempting to explain our predicament I came to the conclusion that I was going down a blind alley and we should just brave the waters, avoid the algae and not put our heads in the water. Plan. Its my birthday, everyone is in a good mood. If we get ill, thats a problem for tomorrow to handle.

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Spiritual

Aside from quite a generous helping of floating pond slime (possibly toxic algae), the water was quite nice. Most of the group went in, one with his iPhone still in his trunks. It was cold, but we had an adventure. And we really did deserve those pub drinks later.

Oh yes, I should also mention that though we didn’t necessarily make the most sensible decision, all my fellow lake swimmers and I suffered no health issues after out dip in the toxic lake.

Ilkley – River Wharfe, Illey Pool and Lido

I drove some friends up to Ilkley in the early part of the summer to go swimming. They have a pool and lido with a backdrop of the hills of Ilkley moor which looked like an ideal place to spend a summers day. There was also a river swim extremely close by, on a bend of the river Wharfe. I wanted to try both places while we were making the journey, so we started off at the river, then planned to head to the lido for another swim and shower after. The river ended up being our favourite. The day wasn’t quite as warm as we’d hoped, it even began to drizzle with cold rain as we walked to the spot, so we weren’t expecting a luxurious experience in the river. The water was a pleasant surprise though. It was quite shallow, enough to make it a manageable temperature, and after getting through a current part of the river (which was strong enough to stop a labrador from moving) there was a deep area to swim, between two shingle banks, like little river beaches. The river ended up being such a nice experience that it outdid the lido. Don’t get me wrong, the lido was fun, we had a beachball, we did penguin dives, and the lifeguard forgave me for going on the slide meant for children because I shouted ‘I don’t pay taxes I’m not a real adult!’. But its depth and size meant it was very cold, and as students, we all of course prefer a free experience, which the river of course was. I will definitely be returning there this summer for another river swim.

Scheveningen Beach, The Hague

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Seeing paragliders and clouds while walking along the beach

During a roadtrip we coined ‘Euro 2k16’, visiting various places in Belgium and The Netherlands, we took a detour en route from Amsterdam to Bruges in The Hague. We knew there was a beach, so we had a little investigate. The beach was massive, long and flat, so it was windy. This meant the sea was cold and the waves were big, so not ideal for swimming, but a worthy experience to have swam somewhere other than in England. I think we enjoyed sandcastle building more than the swimming, but again, braving the cold gives me a proud feeling, kind of like I just conquered a fear. Scheveningen reminded me of cross between how I imagine Los Angeles, and Skegness. I hope thats not taken as an insult though… I thought this place was extremely peaceful, and enjoyed seeing all the paragliders – maybe I should return and try paragliding next.

Cley next the Sea

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Blakeney estuary

I went on a weekend holiday to Blakeney in Norfolk with my family, during which the weather was amazing. This, combined with the sea air, made me want to go swimming so badly, but the estuary in Blakeney was just too shallow for a swim. Instead, one afternoon some of us drove to the nearest official beach, Cley next the sea, for a swim, while the others stayed in the hotel to watch the Wimbledon final. The beach was shingle like others in the area in Norfolk, which meant the water was quite clear for the English sea. Small waves made the water good for swimming, and the long flat beach seemed like it went on for miles. While staring into the distance of the coastline, we spotted a looming grey raincloud, which sure enough was over our heads just at the point we were getting out. In typical British weather fashion, the sky over the hotel about 2 miles down the road was crystal clear, blue, with not a spot of rain in sight.

The Latitude lake

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In potentially the hottest temperatures of the year, swimming in the lake at Latitude festival was the most refreshing feeling. To get in the water you had to jump off a platform, but that was just what we needed. I think they were holding swimming lessons too.

Loch Ness

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Check out my wingspan duuude

Okay.. I just dipped a toe. But the intentions were there and it was awesome to see. I believe its worth noting because seeing Loch Ness was part of my first ever visit to Scotland. Loch Ness is so deep you could fit the empire state building in it, lengthways. Learnt that from a real scotsman I did; accent and all.

Whipsiderry Beach

After spending a long weekend volunteering with Oxfam at Boardmasters festival in Newquay, we were all feeling a bit groggy. It was hot, I was annoyed at having to do everyones washing up. But the thing that would make me feel better was right outside the flat we were staying in. The cool ocean of Whipsiderry Beach, another one of Newquays finest beaches. Again, the boys who accompanied were not happy about the temperature of the water, so they went to do some on-land cave exploring while I did some water based exploring of my own. I came across a couple of jellyfish, but on the whole that swim was lovely. And I was out for ages, so felt like a badass for enduring the cold.

RaceHub at Six Hills

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Sunset and friends

Six Hills golf club is a spot in Leicestershire I first visited the year before. Its purposely used for triathlon training, so you don’t get any funny looks for swimming. Everyones really nice, they have facilities, and its also a really beautiful place. The lake is designed to be swum in circuits around the central island, but we just lazed around in the water for the most part, followed by watching a beautiful sunset over the lake.

King Lears lake, Watermead country park

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Happy place

The problem with Six Hills is that its only open for swimming at certain times on certain days of the week. One day it was boiling hot and I was lying in the garden thinking I just had to find a place to swim. Honestly I thought I would’t find anywhere spontaneously because where I live I usually have to travel for a while to get to a good spot, but I got lucky finding this place. In Leicestershire again, this lake is in Watermead country park, close to Six Hills. Going there on a sunny afternoon alone was so peaceful. There were other swimmers in the water, the water was calm and warm enough to stay in a long time, I swam from the jetty area to the statue of King Lear and back again. The next week I took my mum, who also liked it. Also here is the place I swam with ducks. They are so much faster than they look. I couldn’t keep up. I think this spot is one of my new favourite places, even took the lilo out for a spin.

Szechenyi Thermal Baths, Budapest

After years of wanting to go to Budapest, I finally persuaded someone to go with me. We visited these baths on a winter holiday, which made the thermal aspect all the most luxurious. Szechenyi were the ones we chose to visit because of the huge range of pools and the outdoor area, which had jacuzzi jets and fountains amidst the almost freezing outdoor temperatures. It was a brilliant end to the wild swimming year – on a much more relaxing note than how it started. Hungary is famed for its natural thermal waters, theres a whole load of interesting history about it, which we unfortunately did not pay enough attention to on the boat tour we went on the previous day. Too busy drinking cheap beer and living the life.

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I often find places to swim on wildswim.com, so massive shoutout to the people who run that site – I wouldn’t have found half these places without the wildswim map. The concept behind the site is basically a community of swimmers who plot places to swim on a map and describe their experiences in these places, with warnings and other advice. These descriptions are so useful, so hopefully me writing my experiences with some of the spots I have swam in will be of use in helping others who love wild swimming find cool swim spots too. I’ve had a lot of fun dragging my friends to these weird and wonderful places in 2016 and I look forward to more of the same this year.

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A moment to remember John Berger

I write this with full awareness that I am not the most knowledgable of all Berger’s work. But I do study him. In fact, he is the most discussed cultural theorist in my university course. His book, Ways of Seeing, is referenced in almost all of my academic writing. His work is relevant to so many areas I have interest in within my university course. I also believe his work is interesting, and relevant to the mainstream, and worth reading from many perspectives.

Involved in the movement of redefining our understandings of ‘culture’, and other concepts not seen as important in society before him, Berger was a radical thinker. He rejected culture as ‘high brow’. He drew attention to things no one else had the confidence to think. The female nude is used as a sales technique. Ownership of oil paintings was to demonstrate wealth and any waffle about wisdom behind them was used to cover up this fact. The reproduction and accessibility of paintings changes their meaning; they are no longer wondrous and unobtainable when they are sitting on your television screen in the comfort of your living room.

He brought new arguments to art, modern arguments, questioning what no one else had, making ordinary what no one had dared do before.

What I have studied most in Berger’s work is his thoughts on seeing, gaze, reading our surroundings. An artists perception can be seen in his work, “every image embodies a way of seeing”, and this is altered further by our own perception, our own way of seeing. These thoughts on seeing in different contexts, how what we see is influenced by assumptions have somehow crept their way into many of my essays. But for good reason.

Feminism, photography and art are among topics Berger opened up debate to. His inspiring new ideas, however radical, will continue to influence many. For as long as these topics are studied, his work will continue to have a place. I have only been studying cultural studies for just over a year, and Berger has already influenced my thoughts greatly. I hope to continue to learn from him, and I hope others get to do the same.

A great mind was sadly lost today. Rest in peace John Berger.

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Why should we care about the Lynx

On Boxing Day this year I met the only two lynx cats living in the UK, at Woodside Wildlife Park in Lincolnshire. Not much information was given about the animals aside from this quite shocking fact apart from a mention of the desire by some groups to see their reintroduction into Scotland. If only two lynx live in the UK, I assumed they must be quite severely endangered. The lynx were majestic looking creatures with clean fluffy fur. The way they carefully padded around the enclosure made them appear non-threatening, though I doubt considering a big cat as ‘cuddly’ would be a good idea, and their nature of carnivorous hunters would probably mean that would not be taken as a compliment.

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Recognisable by their tufty ears, the lynx is undeniably regal looking. I found out some information about their population, and through this discovered that it is not unique to the UK that people want to see these cats reintroduced to the wild; many countries are now creating reintroduction programs, along with the UK. This species is protected by groups which have aided hopeful recovery from population lows, but supporting the regrowth of a species almost hunted to extinction in Europe entirely is not cheap. So why is this big cat so important?

Originally the cat was found from the UK through to China, their population now estimated at 50,000 worldwide – mainly inhabiting China and Russia. It is assumed its presence in the UK was eradicated way back between 500 and 700 AD. This makes its reintroduction seem slightly more unnatural, given how much the environment will have changed since these times. Lynx populations in Europe reached a low in the 1950s, with only 700 cats remaining. The reason the lynx disappeared from the wild in the UK was, of course, like many other endangered animals, because of us. They were hunted to extinction for their fur, their habitats were destroyed, in a cycle of mistreatment for monetary gain. Humans ey.

The ‘advantage’ of having these animals present in the wild is to “return a vital natural function to our ecology helping control numbers of deer and a variety of agricultural pest species whilst protecting forestry from deer damage caused by overpopulation”. As far as big cats go, I was right in thinking the lynx is non-threatening. They do not naturally present threat to humans, as they have a “solitary and secretive nature”, and like to spend their time undisturbed in the forest, making them the best lot for the job.

It is sad to think that the effort made to conserve and protect the species and spread the area in which lynx inhabit is essentially for human benefit, but the idea that we could see big cats like these wild in the UK again is kind of wonderful. I love the idea of going on a trip somewhere with the aim of seeing lynx in their own wild habitat. These big cats are native UK dwellers. They should be living their natural existence. We disturbed them in the first place, it’s only fair we make the effort to put this right.

Despite it having been over 2000 years since wild lynx inhabited the UK, reintroduction programs look hopeful, as they have succeeded in other European countries. these environments are perhaps easier to integrate new lynx into because the populations were not entirely forced out, but understanding the way the cats adapt to their surroundings, and where they will be able to act in their normal ‘wild’ way, will help conservationists and specialists identify successful methods of reintroduction to the UK.

Another important consequence could come about from the lynx being reintroduced, conserving and helping potentially disadvantaged small-scale rural and agricultural communities. Some successful and well managed programs in other European countries have constructed “whole new eco-friendly industries such as wildlife tourism around their presence, breathing new economic life into remote rural communities”. I studied geography at A level and I know how important it can be to support communities like these, who in turn support local rural areas, animals and the environment. Another cycle, but this time a really positive one.

In years to come I don’t just want the word lynx to bring to mind only mens aftershave… Known by ancient cultures around the world as the mysterious and elusive ‘Keeper of Secrets’, I believe this gentle creature is worth protecting. If we are the ones exerting our power over animals, harming species and destroying their habitats, we should also right our wrongs, and use our many tools to help endangered creatures and to bring new wild populations to the environments they never should have been forced out of; for the benefit of human communities, the environment and the animals themselves.

 

The Lynx UK Trust site gave me lots of new knowledge on these animals, they also have detailed information on plans for reintroduction into the UK, if anyone is interested:

http://www.lynxuk.org

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Tattershall Castle

My parents and family in general, in typical country-dweller fashion, are members and lovers of the National Trust. When I turned 18 my parents asked me if I wanted to get my own membership. I immediately thought what a waste of money, I was never into that kind of stuff… but then they had me at free car parking.

To be honest, it was never that I wouldn’t enjoy a membership. Its just that I thought I didn’t have the time, or know anyone else who would be interested in coming. Without a membership however I could miss out on family days out, and opportunities to learn about some potentially very cultural and historical stuff, which is always a priority for a Cultural Studies student.

Today, on Easter Sunday, the family headed to Lincolnshire, to a National Trust site – Tattershall Castle.

Expectations were low. Tattershall had been built up to have ‘not much going on’, and ‘just a lot of stairs to climb up’.

My experience however countered these ridiculous claims. Tattershall Castle was right up my street. It was true, there was a lot of stairs, and not too much else, but the sights really were worth the trip. There was also a lot more to the history of the Castle than simply a lot of stairs. Through reading I found out some very interesting things about the fireplaces and the infamous Lord Curzon, who restored the castle and after Oliver Cromwell started a process of destruction and left it uncared for.

The Castle was built in the 15th Century by Ralph Cromwell. The red bricks that make up Tattershall Castle are an unusual material for the time because there was an abundance of stone around, and red brick had not quite come into fashion in England. Clearly Ralph had an eye for design, he was ahead of the times in his use of materials, and what he built up using those bricks is pretty easy on the eye.

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Because of it being Easter Sunday, there was more than usual going on. Of course there was an Easter egg hunt for children, but there was also people dressed in medieval clothes doing demonstrations. Most of which conversed and explained what was going on so everyone understood, but there was one man on a spinning wheel that looked so into his task of turning wool into yarn I was starting to believe he had forgotten he lived in 2016.

The fireplaces were the treasures of the castle, but they were torn out of their homes in the red brick castle walls and sold to The Americans. Lord Curzon was determined to return the fireplaces to their original positions in the castle so he had them transported all the way back from London in horse drawn carriages. This is one of the medieval fireplaces back in its home today.

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The highlight of the castle was of course the experience of being at the top. The wind was so bracing it was almost like being in a wind tunnel, but this did not detract from how beautiful the perfectly flat landscape of Lincolnshire looked from that high up, especially when the sun poked through the clouds to light up the castle and grounds.

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The red bricks look pretty in the sun I think. Is this called a turret? I hope so. Turret is a cool sounding word.

I’ve never been in a castle with a real moat before, it reminded me of primary school history lessons. I can understand why Ralph Cromwell chose that spot as a lookout. You can see for up to 20 miles across the land on a clear day. We could see Lincoln Cathedral from one side (with the help of the poster guide).

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If you zoom in to a certain higher part of the horizon in this picture you might be able to work out the extremely tiny 18 mile away Lincoln Cathedral. It’s on the slightly higher bit of ground to the right of the foreground castle wall if anyone is actually considering doing this.

I found it humorous that one side of the castle had the perfect view of a lake… designated for jet skiing. They were at it in full force today as well I kid you not. I thought it was funny that the owners of the castle in the time of its use would never have known that many years later people would be looking out of the very same windows to see people going crazy on jet skis around a lake. I wonder if they ever consider jet skiing in the moat. Now that would be a contradiction of time periods.

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The jet skiers are on the left lake. Can’t really spot them but they’re somewhere in the midst of the white water trails they made.

I will leave any wandering eyes with these wonderful views and my mums words while standing on the top of Tattershall Castle; ‘It’s like the Arch de Triomph of Lincoln’.

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