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The heat is on… the climate is changing, or is it?

My eye was caught by this video posted on Facebook yesterday – it seemed such a clear and graphic way of showing what’s happening to our climate. The increasing shades or orange and red as we race up to the present day clearly show the increasing temperatures across the world… and it doesn’t even include the scorching, record-breaking summer of 2018!

Temperature Anomalies by Country 1880-2017

Click on the link to run the video and see what happens…

But then I took time to read people’s responses to the post (for once, it was all fairly sensible, with not too many rants) and I started to wonder just how accurate this eye-catching graphic was?

There were comments such as:

“Throughout history, previous climate changes happened over hundreds of thousands of years, not decades.”

“It is cyclical. In medieval times, the Thames froze over in the winter, and we had hot summers. In around 1700s, the same…”

“…it was appreciably colder in the late 1700’s and at the turn of the 20th century, with a warmer period in between. The Romans enjoyed an unusually warm few centuries and the ‘Dark Ages’ were caused in part by a bitter cold century.”

I also noticed that Great Britain is not listed in the countries featured… I know our weather is a bit strange… but did we have to be completely overlooked!? I believe our Met Office is one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, meteorological institutions in the world so we must have more accurate data than most countries.

I find it hard to believe that we are not responsible for causing global warming but, if you look at the history of the Earth as a 24hr clock, humans don’t even appear until 23 hours 58 minutes and 43 seconds! So our impact, although possibly significant, is only a tiny, tiny moment in the lifetime of this amazing planet. So let’s hope this data is not as damning as it seems…

 

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First day at school – or off to Uni?

It’s that time of year – and a very personal one this year. My tiny granddaughter Grace (who it feels is still about one!) is actually coming up for five and starting school. I can’t wait for the first day of school in her uniform picture, definitely one for the mantelpiece! Also, a new start looming for my nephew who heads off to university to study marine biology and lastly but very importantly for me, my youngest daughter is moving to live in Singapore (aghhh!)

So it’s all change and will all have happy outcomes I am sure. If there’s someone in your family starting university – do support them with a card and bear in mind what needy creatures university students are and send them a fiver in the card. Just joking there – it seems to me all students are constantly broke! The card on the right uses our signature die Tree of Life SD410, while the one on the left uses the Townhouse Trio Multibuy signature dies.

Starting on the ladder by going to full-time school is a huge step and turns the life of little 5-year-olds upside down. I remember the comment a friend’s daughter made when going to school came around. She loved day one and came home full of beans saying it was really fun but she was tired – fair enough. The following morning she was inconsolable when she learned she had to go for a second day, she felt having been once was sufficient.

Here are a couple of cards to give you ideas for designs to send to new starters!

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Moorland and paws – a winning combination!

Rachel, one of the owners of Moorland Paws, with Moss and her friend Ziggy at the opening event.

At a time when so many high street shops are closing, it’s great to hear about a new business opening up. I like to visit Chagford for a mooch around the shops and perhaps a visit to a tea shop, it’s a pretty little town up on Dartmoor, and a great place for walking especially if you have a dog. My friend Julia’s dog, Moss the Dartmoor Dog Blogger, was invited to the opening of a new shop in the town called Moorland Paws that caters for both dogs and people!

The shop (a former bank – not many of those left on any high street, sadly) has been kitted out to sell just about everything a dog could need from bowls to beds and from leads to treats. It specialises in ‘natural’ pet care and all the products are made in the UK, contain no chemicals and are cruelty-free. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s also a dog grooming studio spa for all their health and beauty needs!

Nordic walking poles to keep you fit!

For humans, there’s a range of Nordic walking poles, which are a great way to help keep you fit and make walking on the moor (or anywhere else) easier.

Moss attended the event with her friend, Ziggy, and they had a lovely time, sampling treats and saying ‘hi’ to lots of their doggy friends. Moss is quite a rufty tufty outdoor girl and didn’t much fancy a trip to the spa, but she was very keen on a nice new bed (which she didn’t get as she tends to chew them!) and some tasty snacks!

These dog treats look good enough for humans to eat!

The shop has been set up by two enterprising local ladies, Denise and Rachel, and their respective dogs (of course) Winnie and Bailey. Judging by how busy the opening night was, the new shop should be a great success.

 

 

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Cards I have loved…

Do you ever have cards you have made that you just can’t bear to give away? I make so many dozens of cards, I often make one that I really like, but as they are destined for magazine articles or TV shows, I can’t just hide them away and not part with them!

I thought I would do a couple of blogs just showing cards I have particularly loved this year and both of these cards were an easy choice.

Beautiful Bruges – well worth a visit.

The pretty watery scene is from the pad featuring Evgeny (pronounced Eugeny) Lushpin’s artwork. I love his choices of subject and the way he paints. This particular scene is in Bruges I believe and is so beautiful (as is all of Bruges if you get a chance to go for a visit). The backing paper behind also comes from the pad as does the border and sentiment – so convenient!

The butterflies and leaves are from the Signature Die range – Butterfly Cloud and Trailing Leaves.

The gorgeous little bird card uses an image from the Jane Shasky Birds in the Garden pad alongside our Signature Dies Pumpkin Patch – ideal for autumn too!

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Very berry good!

It looks like a great year for blackberries.

The hedgerows are thick with blackberries already this year, I assume as a result of the rather extreme weather we’ve had of late. There are lots of berries that grow wild in this country – strawberries, sloes and elder to name just a few – and it’s a reflection on our modern lives that the vast majority of us wouldn’t be able to identify them, and certainly not feel confident to pick them! We all got terribly excited about ‘superfoods’ a few years ago and berries are top of the list being high in antioxidants, fibre, vitamin C and flavonoids.

The world-conquering strawberry.

As ever, ancient man (and woman of course!) knew all this and berries have been a valuable food source for humans since before the start of agriculture. They were a seasonal staple for early hunter-gatherers for thousands of years. In time, humans learned to store berries so that they could be used in the winter.

Berries began to be cultivated in Europe and other countries. Some species of blackberries and raspberries have been cultivated since the 17th century. The most widely cultivated berry of modern times, you won’t be surprised to hear, is the strawberry, which is produced globally at twice the amount of all other berry crops combined.

Rowanberries – impossible to miss even by the most shortsighted bird!

As ever, Mother Nature has got it all cleverly worked out and when ripened, berries are typically of a contrasting colour to their background (usually green leaves), making them visible and attractive to animals and birds. This is essential as it’s how the plants’ seeds get dispersed to produce new plants and so keep the growing cycle going…

As well as the old favourites – strawberry, raspberry and blackberry – there are plenty more berries out there! Here are a few more:

  • White and Golden Raspberry
  • Dewberry
  • Elderberry
  • Lingonberry
  • Cloudberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Cape Gooseberry
  • Mulberry
  • Loganberry
  • Tayberry

Fresh raspberries – so delicious!

What a gorgeous sounding list! The last two are especially interesting as they are ‘hybrid’ berries – hybrids of other berries, created by planting fruit cross-pollinated by two different plants. In the late 19th and early 20th century, botanists went on a bit of a hybridizing craze, crossing berries in the Rosacea family (like raspberries and blackberries) to try to come up with berries that had the best qualities of both parents.

Loganberry
Legend has it that the loganberry was accidentally created in the late 1800s in California by Judge J.H. Logan. Judge Logan planted an heirloom blackberry and a European raspberry next to each other. The plants seemed to grow well together, and with a little help from the birds and the bees, they cross-pollinated. Loganberries have a deep red raspberry colour and the size and texture of a blackberry. The vines, which lack the substantial thorns of a blackberry, have dark green fuzzy leaves. Unsurprisingly, the loganberry taste a little like a raspberry and a little like a blackberry!

Tayberry
Tayberries are a more recent cross between raspberries and blackberries, developed by the Scottish Horticultural Society in the late 1970s and named after the river Tay in Scotland. The Tayberry also tastes of a cross between raspberries and blackberries, but it is larger and sweeter than Loganberries. Tayberries have a naturally high level of pectin, so they’re perfect for jam and pie filling. Yum!

Elderberries – lovely when ripe… posionous when not!

Fruity facts:

  • If you feel you’re lacking in vitamin C, reach for the strawberries. Just nine provide you with your whole recommended daily allowance!
  • Did you know strawberries are powerful teeth whiteners? They contain Vitamin C which helps fight plaque.
  • Strawberries were regarded as an aphrodisiac in medieval times and a soup with the berries, borage and soured cream was traditionally served to newlyweds at their wedding breakfast. I don’t think I’ll be trying that recipe anytime soon!
  • Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are all part of the rose family. So next Valentine’s Day, consider giving a bunch of berries instead.
  • Everyone knows blueberries are great for humans, but did you know you can freeze them and give them to dogs as a crunchy, healthy treat?
  • While many berries are edible, some are poisonous to humans, such as deadly nightshade. Others, such as the white mulberry, red mulberry, and elderberry, are poisonous when unripe, but are edible when ripe
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