Clean Life, Clean Earth

As this issue is looking at the environment, I took a stroll along Chilwell Road to art supply shop Artworks, where being green isn’t just a colour in tubes of watercolour paint, but a small step to help save the planet, as the shop has recently turned part of its floor space into an area where you can buy green goods in recyclable packaging…

The ‘Waste Less Shop’ only opened on the 11th of June this year by Jessica Leatherland, daughter of Frank Noonan, the owner of Artworks. Previously the space was being used for displaying local artists’ work, but it wasn’t really paying its way, so Jessica, a keen environmentalist anyway and a veggie who is trying to go vegan suggested that the space be turned into a shop where people can come to help reduce and eliminate single-use plastics from their house.

 
So what sort of things are available to buy at the moment? They basically fall into five categories: household cleaning products, personal cleaning products, storage for small items, baby clothes and a small section of jewellery. The range of cleaning products includes washing up liquid, laundry detergent and loo cleaner, of which are all dispensed from large containers into reusable bottles. The batch number of the liquid is always written on the bottle, just in case there are any problems with the production.

You can also get your dishes clean by using soap in bar form that doesn’t contain any plastics or palm oil. Long-lasting, it can also be used as a spot cleaner on clothes and carpets. Then there are scrubbing pads that are made from coconut fibre. Get your pots and pans clean without scratching. And when it wears out, you can chuck it into your compost heap.

Going shopping? How about using an organic cotton bag for carrying your bread, fruit and vegetables in, instead of a plastic carrier bag?

For you or that special person in your life, you can buy body butter, toothbrushes made from bamboo and toothpaste tablets, which are especially useful if you’re travelling abroad, as the Border Force won’t confiscate them, as they might with liquid toothpastes.

Crafters and journalists aren’t forgotten either with Coccoina glue that’s been made in Italy since 1927. Created from potato starch and almond paste, it’s a non toxic safe glue that smells of marzipan. Then there are pencils that have been made from old newspapers.

The baby clothes have been made by one of Jessica’s relations, branded under the name of ‘Handmade by Grandma.’ Some of these cute little jackets have been made from bamboo, which sounds unlikely, but are knitted the same way, and is just as soft, if not softer than wool.

Whilst chatting to Frank; as Jessica is currently on maternity leave, he told me about an event that took place in early September at Calverton’s Village Hall. “A local group in Calverton organised this plastic-free pop up shop event. We went along, even though Jessica was pregnant at the time, and it was a very successful day. We met lots of people and saw all sorts of other products. The money that was raised from the event went to the Surfers Against Sewage conservation charity.”

At the other end of Beeston, there’s Out of The World, who also stock green products. I asked Frank how the Waste Less Shop tries to differentiate itself from this larger retailer. “We try not to stock products that they do, and vice versa. If we don’t stock something, then we will send the customer there, and likewise, they will send their customer here.”

As the concern over the environment grows by the day, this can only mean that there has to be a seismic shift in the way that companies make products and how people use them. This also could result in a return to more traditional methods of production and an increase in smaller, independent traders on the high street.

Waste Less Shop offer everyday items to help you reduce your waste. We have a selection of products available to help you eliminate single-use plastic from your home.

CF

 

University of Beestonia: Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015 the United Nations released a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives of all. This ambitious blueprint outlined 17 Goals and a 15-year timeframe in which to achieve them.

Sustainability is a challenging concept but is broadly defined in this context as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”. The focus on the SDGs and sustainability in general has opened a wealth of opportunities for scientists. One of the biggest shifts in the UK has been in the nature of the funding landscape, with the introduction of the “Global Challenges Research Fund” in 2015 – a £1.5bn UK Government funding initiative. This has in turn seen many Universities and Research Institutes align their research strategies with the SDGs – for example, the British Geological Survey’s “Geoscience for Sustainable Futures” programme, or the University of Nottingham’s Global Research Theme “Developing Sustainable Societies” and Future Food Beacon of Excellence, which have been discussed previously in this column.

Geoscience, our focus at the BGS, as well as other (and arguably all) science disciplines have a crucial role in underpinning and delivering applied solutions to improve economic and social welfare both at home and overseas. Perhaps the key to achieving the goals is tied up in Goal 17 –Partnerships for the Goals. We can no longer be scientists that sail our own ships, the need for crossdisciplinary working has never been stronger. We also need to work effectively and appropriately with overseas partners – be these academics, government bodies, or local communities – working together to co-design research, and co-produce knowledge to positively impact economic, environmental, and social development at local to global scales.

Achieving the UN-SDGs by 2030 might seem like an insurmountable task, and will be challenging, but does represent an exciting opportunity for scientists both in the UK and overseas to contribute to making positive change at a global scale.

Thanks to Dr. Keely Mills from the British Geological Survey (BGS) for contributing to the column this issue.

I Am Beeston: Remembering Alice Grundy

On the 25th of June 2017, the Canalside Heritage Centre opened its doors for the first time, after being transformed into a wonderful visitors centre and cafe from a derelict row of cottages. Of course, I went along with my Beestonian hat on and the famous ‘I Am Beeston’ sign, just in case I should meet some more brilliant Beestonians.

Well actually I did, and one person, in particular, stood out.
A sweet little old lady by the name of Alice Grundy. Besides her great age, unbeknown to me was that she had opened the centre, as she had a strong connection with the area, in that she had lived on the canal and where her young sister Annie, who was eight at the time sadly drowned.

Fast forward to September this year when Beestonian Towers received a message from her son in law Malcolm and her daughter Lesley. They wanted to chat about Alice and the life that she had led. So one evening, I popped down with my jotter and pen. Fortunately, they had provided me with a transcript of the tribute that had been paid to Alice at her funeral. She sadly died a shade before her 100th birthday. So the following is a slightly condensed version of that tribute.

“Alice was born in Liverpool during 1920. She lived with her parents, grandparents and siblings George and Annie. Unfortunately, her parents’ marriage came to an end, so the three youngsters went to live with their grandparents on a houseboat on the canal in the Rylands. And as mentioned previously, in 1930, Annie tragically fell into the water. Something that Alice never got over. She went to Church Street School, before moving to Nether Street. Alice remembered when the area was farms and fields, and buying beer for her grandma from the original Jolly Anglers pub. She also danced on the stage at the Boat and Horses, and played with the Bagshaw brothers who lived in the cottages before they became the heritage centre.

When Alice was 14, she returned to Liverpool to complete her education and began working in a linen shop. But she learned that her friends back in Beeston were earning more as apprentices at Ericssons. So that’s what Alice did. She moved back to Beeston and worked as an electronics tester.

During World War II, she went back to Liverpool to live with her mum and brother George. But their house was destroyed during two air raids, and so they moved to Yorkshire.

“She was very kind and generous and was a volunteer with the Partially Sighted Group…”

After the war, Alice moved back to Beeston, where she met and married a man called Wilf Grundy in 1946. They firstly lived on Waverley Avenue, before moving to Canalside, then to a house in Chilwell, with their children Kevin and Lesley. Wilf was a lawn bowler, and so Alice joined too and became a brilliant player. They won many competitions, both in mixed pairs and separately. They were also involved in Plessey’s Social Club, where they danced the night away on many, many occasions. The slow foxtrot being their favourite, until Wilf passed away in 2002.

But Alice was always thinking of others. She was very kind and generous and was a volunteer with the Partially Sighted Group, where she helped for some 30 years. She was also involved with the Old Mission and the church on Victory Road. She also used to go shopping for people, and used to ride a bike through Beeston, often laden with groceries, and continued to cycle well into her 70s.

Alice moved to Venn Court in the late 1990s where she was the life and soul of the centre. She kept busy playing darts, keeping fit, and being involved in all the social activities that the independent living scheme had to offer.

She clearly enjoyed living life to the full, being positive about life and always having a laugh. Obviously this positive outlook helped her live to almost a century, despite her early setbacks. An inspiration for us all perhaps.”

CF

Beeston Safari

It occurred to me, sometime last Christmas, that to enter one of the Top Ten Eco Destinations in the World (according to BBC Wildlife Magazine) I didn’t have to do much more than walk a few steps from my house, cross a railway track and push a swing gate open.

I don’t live on the edge of a rainforest in Borneo. I don’t live on the fringe of the Red Desert in Namibia. As you may expect from someone who runs a magazine based in Beeston, my digs aren’t quite so exotic. I live, as many of you reading this will also do, right close to Attenborough Nature Reserve.

It also occurred to me that I didn’t know a great deal about what was within that reserve, or my own back garden for that matter, which felt an awful waste. Sure, I knew my swans from my geese, my starling from my sparrow; and I’d coaxed a few robins to feed from my outstretched palm on occasion. But what else was there? Finding a trap-cam and a bird-book in my Christmas stocking, I decided to put them to use. I would start a safari in Beeston, with the Nature Reserve, the Trent and my own rather overgrown back garden as my focus.

 

The challenge was simple: every day I would find and photograph a new species of life, research exactly what it was and what it did, and put it up on Instagram and Facebook. On the first day, while the outside world tussled with New Year hangovers, I checked my trapcams at dawn and found only curious cats. No matter. I stuck my camera out of the front window and onto the bird feeder, where a grey squirrel performed tail-based acrobatics and thus became my first subject. Next day, collared dove. Third day, the first creature I had no previous idea of, only identifying through a microscope: a planarium flatworm, making its way through the soil. A shiny glass snail – I’d until then assumed there was just two types of snails, garden and pond – with an aphid, coal tit and a common centipede rounding off the first week.

“Nature is an incredible array of stories, histories, etymologies and often bizarre facts.”

With each new species came a desire to not just photograph it, not just know its name, but know why it is unique. Why is a mute swan mute (it’s not)? Why do hoverflies look like wasps? Who the hell was responsible for naming fungus, and were they getting a bit too fond of the more psychedelic versions while at work that day? Nature is an incredible array of stories, histories, etymologies and often bizarre facts. I became addicted to it.

As spring broke through the frozen ground, I became spoiled for choice. Hedgehogs and badgers would regularly visit the trap cam, and the wealth of species that appeared in the nature reserves was heady: I became fascinated by beetles, amazed at the habits of butterflies, enthralled by the impossible flash of a hawker dragonfly in full flight. Rather than have nature as an auxiliary support, there to dip into when needed, I began to become immersed and wilfully lost in it. I could happily spend hours piling through scratching brambles all just to get a grainy shot of a blackcap. Windows were left open and lights left on during the night to lure in fascinating moths. My photography skills vastly improved. My own backyard became my own Serengeti, a joy taken in the minutiae.

It started to get noticed: numerous appearances on Notts TV talking about the safari ensued, and people would send me their own pictures, seemingly inspired by my efforts. The ultimate accolade came in late May, when a hero of mine who radically changed how nature is written about, Robert Macfarlane, crossed paths with me due to a work event. We went for dinner together at Cafe Roya, where he told me he enjoyed my daily pictures. I probably resembled a smug Elephant Hawk Moth right then, as my head swelled
accordingly.

Something more important happened too. I fell back in love with nature, and I once again understood what a balm it is. Immersion into nature takes you somewhere far from the daily stresses, the petty internal debates. By reducing you to just another temporal organism amongst many billions, a transcendence can begin. Understanding more about the creatures we share this patch with lends a greater respect, a deeper empathy and a greater need to look after what we have. To quote Robert Macfarlane “We find it hard to love what we cannot give a name to. And what we do not love we will not save.” And right now, we need to bridge that gap between nature and humanity, for it’s sake, for our sake.

This year, I’ve restarted the safari: as I write I’m watching a charm of goldfinch on a feeder, while a cautious female blackbird pecks at an apple left on the floor. Keep up with the safari over on my Instagram: @beestonia.

MT

 

 

Eco Friendly Parenting

The phrase ‘eco-friendly parenting’ summons up images of forest schools and vegan lentil puree and sharing circles where mums hang out in wafty kaftans while beardy dads whittle musical pipes to sell at local craft markets, but I have a very vivid and judgemental imagination. As someone with less free time than Prince Andrew in 1999, I know how hard it can be to actively do my bit for the environment as well as sort out childcare, work full time and remember which charity your kid needs a pound for at school.

There are, however, a few bits of fairly sensible advice I’ve picked up over the years from people who are far more qualified to bring up a child than I am, so I’m going to shamelessly pass these off as my own and gain your immense admiration and respect.

Buy books. Books hold their value for far longer than the latest LOL doll or surprise bag, and can be passed on to your local charity shop or a mate with a younger child when yours gets bigger. They make great personal gifts, you can get them in the pound shop, and they don’t take up too much space in small bedrooms. Buy reusable water bottles and avoid snacks in single-use plastic containers. Baby-Bels are fun but a block of cheese is cheaper and produces less waste. Same with fruit and biscuits. Buy bulk and cheap where you can, and ignore the tiny protestations of the 3-year-old who wants Transformers yoghurt pots. You are bigger than they are. Be strong. Sit on them if necessary.

“Scour charity shops for stocking fillers and remember that it’s fine to buy second hand.”

Shop local; find smaller gift items on your high street from independent retailers and avoid those big chains who avoid their taxes. You’ll be supporting local individuals rather than billionaires. Check out the website Etsy for some brilliant one-off gifts which are more personal than a Frozen 2 lip balm set. Scour charity shops for stocking fillers and remember that it’s fine to buy second hand.

Above all remind your kids about the great outdoors. Parks are free, and if they grow up loving the outdoors they will grow up to want to protect it. That’s really the best thing you can do, and it costs nothing. Chuck on something narrated by David Attenborough and remind them that we share the world, that it’s not ours. (Skip the bit where the baby seals get eaten alive though, our kid hasn’t slept for 7 weeks and we’re all very tired.)

DL

Box of delights

The theme for this issue is one dear to our hearts at Creative Beeston. If we can make it or buy it handmade then we are all the happier for it – our Christmas presents this year were no exception.

Making a present for someone can be so much fun, and you don’t have to be an expert to pull it off. There are many kits you can buy and workshops you can attend that will help you produce something of a high standard – check out our feature on Two Little Magpies courses for 2020!

As we become more and more environmentally conscious, we are leaning towards alternatives to ‘fast fashion’ and making your own clothes is just one of them. Sewing patterns are so much simpler these days and a LOT more affordable since the Vogue days. Try Tilly and the Buttons for their comprehensive range – they even have a blog to help you on your quest for a handmade wardrobe.

If you do fancy having a go at putting something together yourself, you will find plenty of inspiration at The Sewing Box in Beeston. Tucked away down Willoughby Street, just off the High Road, you will find a petite shop front that is the entrance to a treasure chest of pretty and functional things to make everything from a ribbon necklace, or knitted sweater, to a full outfit to wear.

You might have met the owner, Mike Barnes, at one of the Beeston Markets in the square over the years, his tables of brightly coloured ribbon trails may have attracted your gaze as you walked past the stall, reels of satin, lace and braids jostling for attention. He was always very helpful when choosing something to embellish one of my handmade makes, and was known for having something beautifully unique to tempt me to part with my cash.

Mike has a long history with market trading and manufacturing, having his interest roused at the age of eleven by a visit to Sneinton Market with his mother. He recalls how thriving it was, bustling with shoppers and traders, wrapping their goods in newspaper and keeping the atmosphere alive with their busy banter. Fifteen years later, by now a trained accountant working in the textile trade, Mike earned himself his own pitch selling baby grows he had designed and manufactured himself.

Despite many years of success as a trader, the popularity of street markets dwindled due to the rise in supermarkets and car parking restrictions and Mike stopped manufacturing over a decade ago. Whilst he was making underwear, he took a trip to India to source some of his trimmings and this sparked his interest in supplying the public with his exceptional finds. In 2014 he opened The Sewing Box in the centre of Beeston and here you can benefit from his expertise and his eye for collecting beautiful things.

When you have finally made it past the doorway of The Sewing Box, with its endless rows of threads and trims to pore over, you will find a well-stocked back-room full of delightful fabrics including individually sourced Africa wax fabric which is tricky to get hold of outside of London. Alison Barlow sources some of the fabrics for Mike whilst she scours the globe for exotic trims for her local online business, Mokshatrim. She also runs the Facebook page Made in Beeston, which came out of the desire to promote local crafters who make items from materials they buy at The Sewing Box.

A long-time customer and self-confessed promoter, Alison tells me that what is great about the Sewing Box is that Mike sources his stock using his connections with the trade, rather than the same typical wholesalers, and this makes his collection of trims and laces quite unique. In her words, ‘he has THE BEST range of lace and trims in Nottingham!’ Pair that with his knowledge of manufacturing and you have a shop manager that really knows his stuff! Alison has worked with Mike for six years now, supporting him with the website and social media presence but also with ideas for the shop.

And his prices are more accessible for the novice dressmaker. We have a number of good sewing places in Beeston that complement each other well, but he sits at the more affordable end of the spectrum. As well as the fabrics and threads, Mike stocks a small selection of kits, knitting patterns and wool. He’s a big supporter of Boomerang Bags and is always happy to promote local crafters and events.

You will find The Sewing Box on Willoughby Street, Beeston, Nottingham, NG9 2LT.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sewingboxbeeston

Email – info@mikebarnes-trimmings.co.uk

DU

Bow Selector: A look back on 2019…

As I write this I’m dressed in a silly costume, representing a world-famous character who is renowned for doing the right thing and being very generous – although this time I’m not Robin Hood, today I’m being Santa at a sold-out Nottingham Albert Hall for two performances of their annual Kidsophonic Christmas Concerts which combine festive music played by a brilliant orchestra with games, poems, songs and carols and of course a visit at the end from the portly philanthropist.

It’s a lovely event and for my five-year-old daughter Scarlett (six on Boxing Day) it’ll be her fourth time of attending – and each year I wonder if this is the year she’ll spot her favourite Santa (who mysteriously knows so much about her) is in fact me! Maybe this year will be the one, I don’t know…

But whilst Christmas is a time for tradition, the New Year, also rushing towards us apace, is a time for reflection and change. This year has been one of huge change for all of us and I don’t expect 2020 will be any less tumultuous. Obviously things have been ‘interesting’ this year for any number of reasons – national and international politics for a start – but don’t worry, I’m certainly not going to dredge all that up again. One of the other hats I wear (aside from Robin Hood and Santa hats) is that of an admin for the wonderful ‘Beeston Updated’ Facebook group and it’s been fun (I think that’s the word) trying to keep the place as apolitical or neutral as possible whilst a storm of divisiveness crashes around us all.

But things have changed here in Beeston too this year – some of it sad, with some businesses closing their doors for the final time. Personally, I was gutted to see the wonderful games, comic store and social hub Chimera disappear from the Broadgate end of the High Road and of course, The White Lion also shut.

There are good news stories too though, farewell Table 8, hello Yak and Yeti for instance. And Andy and Heather from Chimera are keeping the legacy of their store and community alive by running ‘pop up’ gaming sessions in other local venues like our splendid micropub the Pottle (near Sainsbury’s) which keeps the social and retail aspect alive and fresh without the worrying cost of keeping a physical shop going; it’s a great way to utilise and promote other local venues too. The White Lion looks to have a new team coming in soon and there are even vague rumours that the redevelopment of the dead land by the tram station might actually come to something!

“The enthusiasm I see from the people of Beeston is incredibly heartening…”

The downside of that is that the Beeston Beach may not reappear again – much to Scarlett’s dismay as she loves it – and sadly the splendid mural of Robin Hood will have to be demolished (but I’m happy to stand in its place for hours on end for a very reasonable fee, I promise). The vibrant art scene in Beeston is another wonderful and unique ongoing point of interest – again on Beeston Updated there were a number of views expressed including some folks who thought (and presumably still think) that such public art does nothing for the town; I must admit I side with those who think it’s beautiful and enhances the place.

I know we’re all still waiting for the arrival of a shoe-megastore and some proper public toilets but the enthusiasm I see from the people of Beeston is incredibly heartening and gives me some real hope for 2020.

And now I’ve written all of this I can reveal that there was another change this year – at the end of the concert, just as she’d had her photo taken with Santa in his sleigh Scarlett turned round, hugged me and whispered in my ear “I love you Daddy.”

It’s the end of an era – but also the start of another.

Happy New Year!

TP

New Year, New Skills!

At the top end of the High Road you will find another delight. Two Little Magpies Gift Shop and Studio. They have an extensive range of courses for you to learn a craft and here are our top picks for sustainability.

Beginners Embroidery

A two-hour workshop, which encourages you to create your own unique project using basic embroidery stitches but the more experienced can learn new stitches too. A fabulous way to breathe new life into a tired-looking garment, embroidery is a great tool for brightening up knitwear and denim too. It can also be used to repair garments – but that’s for another class!

They have a large stash of threads and embellishments to dip into, including ribbons, sequins, beads, buttons and gems. Slow stitching projects like this can be so therapeutic.

What’s more, tea and biscuits, plus all materials are provided!

Paper Quilling

Supported by a large selection of templates, paper quilling is not quite as complicated as it looks, so it’s suitable for an absolute beginner. Coiling and shaping colourful strips of paper into beautiful works of art is so relaxing and produces great effects.

The finished projects are ‘light, delicate and look very intricate,’ they are bound to impress anyone who receives one as a gift! Made completely from paper they get the seal of approval from us, and like all Magpies courses, you will benefit from beverages and light snacks to keep you going.

You will also leave the workshop with a quilling tool and a fine glue applicator to continue your new craft at home.

Make a lampshade with Sarah Sewell

If you fancy making something for the home, Sarah Sewell of Wildgoose Designs will teach you how to make a fabric-covered 30cm drum lampshade – suitable for a table lamp or as a ceiling shade.

A fabulous idea to use up ends of fabric rolls and create something unique, so another thumbs up for both recycling and sustainability. This is also a course where no previous crafting experience is necessary. Oh and more tea and biscuits!

So what are you waiting for, it’s a new year and a time to learn new skills!

‘Good things come to those who craft.’ TLM

www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

DU

Trees of Beeston #6

Last December’s Trees of Beeston (The Beestonian, issue 61), focused its attention on the seasonal staple: the pine. It celebrated the majestic Scots Pine that is well over a century old in the grounds of Beeston Parish Church at the junction of Styring Street and Chilwell Road, and the medicinal, cultural and social benefits Pine trees have gifted humans throughout history. A year on, as I sit in Costa admiring the pink lights on our traditional wonky Christmas tree in The Square, I want to take time to consider the theme of sustainability and how we might consider trees not just at Christmas, but of their sustained importance in our daily lives in Beeston, how they daily enrich our everyday lives and make habitable our community and how we might all be more tree aware in valuing the priceless environmental gems that line our streets and grow in our gardens and parks.

Sustainable Christmas trees

Last year, I discussed how readers might reflect on the festive tree they
purchase: whether cut or potted, how much use can be found for them after the twelve days of Christmas are over. A living potted tree (one with roots) can be kept either by planting them out in the garden (if you have space), potted on to be used again the following year, or else kept in pots on balconies. As they are evergreen, they add to the local ecology, and enable insects to find homes, and enrich our biodiversity. If you purchase a cut tree (no roots), how the pine needles can be mulched and added to compost to make ericaceous soil for plants like Blueberries or Azaleas that like acid-loving soils.

If you have a wood burner and somewhere dry to store it, the trunk of a Christmas tree can be ‘seasoned’ (kept) for a year then cut into burnable chunks as a yule log for the following Christmas. The branches
can be kept in a similar way and make excellent kindling that crackles with pine resin to release the divine smell of pine. If you have space at the end of a garden, allowing a dying cut tree to slowly decompose provides living spaces for the insects and bug life that pollinate flowers and plants as well as providing food for birds, so an ex-Christmas tree as a bug hotel is also another good use.

This year, I wanted to source a sustainable tree: to find out about its life before it takes centre stage in my domestic festivities during Christmas and before it makes its way to enriching my woodpile and garden compost in the new year. Luckily, I went to see Anthony at Hallams at their Christmas tree centre behind Sushi House on Beeston High Street and selected my tree.

It was a bitterly cold morning, and I spent a good while deliberating on which tree I could a) afford and b) how my investment in the tree could be used after the festive season had finished. I’ll admit, the presence of pine cones led to my choice of a Fraser Fir, as much as for its thick pretty dark green pine needles with a natural hue of white at their tips. The pine cones not only make an attractive additional feature to the tree while indoors, but after Christmas will make excellent kindling/firelighters, a bonus addition to my woodstore.

Most of the Christmas trees at Hallams (who are not paying for this promotion, but are an excellent local company and purveyors of top fruit, veg and fish as well as festive trees) are supplied by a specialist ‘needlefresh grower’. Needlefresh, their website states are “The UK’s leading supplier of real, living and fresh-cut Christmas trees direct to trade and to the consumer.” If you go to the website (www.needlefresh.co.uk) and type in the code number on the top of the tag of your chosen tree, you can locate where your tree was grown in the UK.

While the Fraser Fir is a tree native to America and the most popular variety used in the United States (including the type most acquired by the White House), this specially grown Fraser Fir had not been shipped across the Atlantic, and had far fewer carbon miles. The grower of this fine tree is Brian, son of Gordon Hughes who set up Tayside forestry 55 years ago. Today, Brian produces 60,000 trees up in the Angus countryside in Scotland in environmentally friendly ways, employing experienced staff.

It pleases me to know the provenance of my tree. I know that my money isn’t just going to a local business in Beeston, but that its growers and the community in Scotland will also benefit from the sale.

Anthony netted my tree ready for delivery. While the netting itself is not made from recyclable materials, I will be reusing it in a similar vein to how I reuse the nets that my fruit comes in: I will bundle it up and either use it as a large scouring pad to clean my garden pots or else use it for packaging filling when sending fragile items in the post.

I won’t be able to show you the decorations, as my decorating of the tree will happen after I have submitted this article, but for those interested in interior festive design, my humanist Christmas tree takes a different theme each year. Last year, it was scientists and science fiction writers, two of whom (Stephen Hawking and Ursula K Le Guin) has died in 2019 and I wanted to remember them (yes, I went full Blue Peter and made images of them into ‘angels’) along with Alan Turing, Prof Maggie Aderin-Pocock (my son is a big fan of CBeebies Stargazing live), and Dame Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the astro-physicist who discovered quasars and pulsars. This year, it will have a Bronte theme in honour of my favourite of the three Bronte Sisters, Anne, whose bicentenary is marked in 2020. The Midlands author George Eliot will also feature as she also shares a bicentenary with Anne Bronte. Given that pines are used in the making of paper and in the production of books, to have a literary festive tree seems – to me at least – entirely apt.

So I look forward to the quality of time spent with my Christmas tree, enjoying the twinkling lights, and taking time to be grateful for the many small blessings in my life, of which the trees of Beeston are one.

Trees of Beeston for 2020

I took a small break from writing this column. Over the summer,
I became despondent and a little down. Most days appeared to bring the screeching sonics of chainsaws, and trees in gardens along my street and surrounding streets in Beeston vanished. We have no street trees on my street, so any trees in the landscape around my home are in the private gardens of neighbours, increasingly absentee owner property ‘investors’ who appear to prioritize profit over planet, tenants over trees. Beloved trees I have enjoyed having as neighbours, have known the entire time of my living in Beeston were felled. I saw mature Holly, Sycamore,
Alder trees removed. I grieved their loss. The skyline changed. The atmosphere of the neighbourhood changed. When the heat of the summer sun shone down, there was no more tree shade as I waited for the bus along Queens Road. When the rains came, there were fewer trees to absorb the surface water and localised flooding occurred. Fewer bats flew past. The owl that used to regularly hoot its nocturnal presence does so no more. The sound of songbirds have audibly diminished. So I have made renewed efforts to encourage wildlife into my garden. I have begun to collect tree seeds. Pot up saplings. When I mark the passing of friends or another job application fails, I plant a tree. When I do this, I feel like I plant some hope. A more hopeful future.

So I mark the return of Trees of Beeston by getting behind initiatives taking place in Beeston that share an appreciation for trees in our landscape. I am encouraged to see the We Dig\NG9 initiative along with the Beeston Civic Society and Broxtowe Borough Council’s to plant a mini woodland habitat as a community forest.

For all interested in taking part, reserve 24th January in your brand new 2020 diaries: 10 am-noon at Beeston FC Pavilion, Cartwright Way. Bring wellies, tree enthusiasm and a sense of renewed purpose for being custodians of the treescape of future Beestonians! As the new year approaches, the very best thing every one of us can commit to is planting a tree. The Woodland Trust campaign #EveryTreeCounts acknowledges that in the face of climate catastrophe, a campaign for planting more trees will help
not just the quality of the everyday lives of people, for the connection they bring to the natural world, but because it makes our world habitable for wildlife and us: trees “lock up carbon, fight flooding, reduce pollution, nurture wildlife and make landscapes more resilient” (www.woodlandtrust.org.uk).

Trees of Beeston is strongly behind #TreesForBeeston and will continue to celebrate the trees in our fab town. It will also celebrate the efforts and capacity we have as fellow inhabitants to live sustainably with the trees we have and the new trees we can plant and grow, to share tree knowledge for future residents – tree and human – in Beeston. Given the multiple benefits of trees for environmental sustainability, I look forward to 2020 marking a renewed focus for Trees of and for Beeston!

Wishing you all a peaceful, sustainable and hopeful Christmas and 2020.

DR JN

Beeston Beats: a not so Merry New Year

Evening all, Let me tell you a tale so ghastly, you will wonder why it wasn’t included in our super scary 666 Halloween special, draw the curtains, stick ‘eatin on (that’s Central Heating for non Mainlanders) grab a brew, while I relay a tale that is worse than popping down shops for a pint of milk in January sales.

I’ve always loved a tipple, from the dash of rum added by my gran, to tea to keep cold out as a nipper, to teen years swigging god awful 20-20 (unapologetic new year pun) and finally nursing a proper real ale or flavoured porter with a sneaky few banana shots at the end of the night, ahh. After a pretty heavy session that included all of the above I woke up feeling like the arse end of a circus donkey (looking a lot like one too), I decided after a monumental hangover to give the old drinky poos a rest for a bit, before this starts to feel like a self-indulgent piece, bear with me. The true horror here is being Sober at Christmas and even worse a Sober New YEARS EVE!!! EKKKKKK!! Told ya it was gonna get scary.

I actually found not drinking didn’t faze me one bit, in fact, people were surprised that I was enjoying it, still going out to gigs, pub crawls and everything exactly the same, including the cost, a night on the softies can be just as expensive. Just as I was adjusting to life on the quieter side, the world descended into festive chaos, the Crimbo party invites descended like an avalanche, office party, staff party, don’t forget the festive jumpers! I overheard two girls chatting with one saying “everyone drinks at Christmas even those who don’t drink”. This leads me to my problem. Explaining to anyone this time of year that you simply don’t drink is a nightmare, and always leads to, ‘ahh go on its Christmas!’ Like an annoying Mrs Doyle on loop. It gets worse. New Year is the mecca of booze-fuelled intoxicated merriment if you will. So the ultimate night of the year, what to do? Here’s my guide to how to see in the New Year. These may or not have happened to me during my life, I cannot confirm nor deny…

Options

Go large! Hit Nottingham, see someone get kicked out of the pub by noon, wait at the bar for the rest of your life while two maybe three bartenders serve on one of the busiest nights of the year, die of thirst by the time you get served. Pay a fortune for a taxi only to end up in the local in Beeston.

Go Mega large! Hit London Baby Yeah! Realise that drinking in the street laws don’t apply on NYE and you’re the only sober one there. Spend the night wading through broken bottles and avoiding breathing as everywhere smells of wee.

Stay in! No queues and drunken idiots, only ones you know! Wait in while all said friends have gone to a cooler more awesome party leaving you to get bored and stare at other peoples fireworks.

Go for a walk! Watch the big displays over the marina, while a drunken man fires off fireworks from his boat while blaring out Bing Crosby and hitting the stone bridge (who put that there) head home as its January and freezing.

Go to someone else’s party! Turn up with a four-pack of Tesco value and drink all the Desperados, struggle to hear anyone talk as the music’s blaring, no one complains on NYE right? Pass out in the bath while all said party launch a search party, wake up in an empty house go home to 100 missed calls and messages.

Go local! Buy a ticket for a lock-in at the Local, invite all friends, half of them are pissed by the time they get there. There’s a couple who decided to split up that night, someone’s been dumped, everyone’s sighing while looking at the clock and some twats brought party poppers.

All options in, I just can’t decide, there’s always so much expectation with New Year, wherever you go, have fun, be safe and leave me being sober for the festivities alone or I am coming after you in Jan when everyone’s drying out, what was that? You wanted a triple jager?! Ahhh, Go on then…