Today was both Trinity Sunday and Environment Sunday and our focus was on the former, but we were outside in the glorious sunshine and the sermon slot talk - which involved a scavenger hunt and much flag waving - made frequent reference to God as Creator as well as to our blue planet. So it felt very apt for Environment Sunday nonetheless. The EcoChurch team had invited Tricia Marcouse of Reading Climate Action Network to give us a talk over coffee - for those who missed it or couldn't hear well, my notes on the talk are at the bottom of this post.
Afterwards we enjoyed a delicious lunch which (with a few tiny fishy exceptions) was vegetarian - a range of quiches, tarts and pizzas with salads plus puddings galore. The proceeds from the lunch will be going to Ripple Effect (previously Send A Cow) to "twin" our garden with one in rural Kenya.
Throughout lunch we took it in turns to check on Jemima - the crazy duck who has decided to nest in our courtyard even though she won't be able to get her ducklings to water from there. Nikki, who keeps ducks, has ordered us some appropriate food and a proper water container for her to drink from while she's nesting (she's had to make do with a plant tray of water and bird seeds since I found her on Wednesday) and we're probably going to have to install a temporary pond.
As we were cycling home, I made a last minute decision to cycle left instead of right to join the Wildlife and Conservation group of the Friends of Reading Old Cemetery - they meet on the first Sunday of the month at 2pm, and to be honest my introvert brain is usually so fried after a church lunch that I've been putting off going since I found out about them last year. Realising it was 1.55, and knowing they'd advertised a Love Your Burial Ground week event, this felt like the moment to fight off the urge to slide into the hammock with an icecream at home and find out what was going on. It was not the biodiversity survey I had been expecting, but a working party building up habitat piles from the many fallen branches (I was very poorly dressed for the job), but it was such a lovely couple of hours. Wonderfully friendly people, tea provided half way through, plenty of scope for quietly getting on with the job or chatting to others as suited - we were working in the shade and kept catching sight of speckled wood butterflies in the dappled sunshine. Three of us were new and were given a tour of the cemetery part way through (caught sight of lots of holly blue butterflies there, as well as damsel flies, and the telltale remains of a sparrowhawk meal) - just a tiny glimpse of its fascinating history. I can see that finding out more about it could get quite addictive and am looking forward to going back soon.
Notes from Reading CAN talk:
Tricia began by explaining that Reading Climate Action Network consists of the same people as Reading Climate Change Partnership – ranging across many sectors of Reading including the hospital, council and university. While some of the sector leads, eg transport, do so as part of their paid work, others, such as herself heading up nature, are volunteers. Their budget is very small.
She began with an introduction to draughtbusters who help people in fuel poverty, referred to them from various routes. If we know of anyone in this situation, she recommends referring them either to the Council’s Winter Watch programme or the Citizens Advice Bureau. They are also keen to train up more volunteers if anyone is interested – she assured us it is “remarkably not complicated” and suggested we could host a workshop in our community to advise local people what can be done. They are trying to link up with housing associations to train them, but so far have only been linked with one in Oxfordshire, and they have started 8 other groups doing the same work.
Then she moved on to talk about protecting and promoting biodiversity in Reading. There are lots of little voluntary groups around town looking after plots of land belonging to council to increase biodiversity and carbon storage along with its existing use (our nearest is probably Newtown Community Garden).
They are also trying to future proof Reading for a future hotter climate – more shade will be needed in public open spaces so we need to plant now for the future. One plot they have worked on is Shinfield Road Recreation Ground. She showed us posters from this of children’s designs for nature projects for home and school. So far all the trees they planted there are ok, but a portable BBQ had melted the plastic seats chosen to avoid them rotting. She recommended cycling over to Clayfield Copse where the bank of wildflowers they have planted looks magnificent.
In Reading at present there are a lot of problems with people trying to have tree preservation orders overturned. We really need legislation that in principle you cannot cut down trees.But good things are being achievedShe mentioned that the biggest single thing we can do is have a wildlife pond in our garden and she is happy to help provide suitable plants since they multiply easily yet cost a fortune in the garden centres.
She concluded by urging us to join the climate festival events, this starts with the Water Fest where she will have stall where there will be the opportunity to handle slow worms.
In the questions afterwards, as well as making suggestions for dealing with the duck nesting in our courtyard, she mentioned events for children happening at Holy Brook Nook in the triangle between the railway lines in Coley.