Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Why I’m pro-choice (and cash is still king)

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Increasingly I feel that cash – the tangible coins and notes we hold in our hands – is on its way out. I use a mixture of both cash and card. Using my debit card is much more convenient, especially when it’s just tap and go. Using cash, however, makes me think more about what I’m buying, do I want to spend my money on this service, have I got enough bank notes or coins on me to purchase this product? Less handy but it does also help me feel more in control of my spending.

During the pandemic, there were fears that cash spread the virus. Yes, coins have been touched by other people, but so has the supermarket trolley and basket, and all the groceries in the supermarket you’re selecting from. And if you’re buying a cup of tea and cake in a cafe, how do you know the food hasn’t been touched by dirty hands?

Regardless, cash was seen as ‘dirty’ and there became an emphasis on using other means. Now some customers rely solely on their credit card or smartphone and there have been some reports of certain businesses not even allowing the traditional means of payment.

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I went to a burger restaurant in Newbury this summer. After eating my burger I was surprised to hear they didn’t take cash. After paying and leaving the premises, it occurred to me how I always forget to leave a tip when paying by card.

There were also reports of an individual branch of Starbucks going cashless – and tweets from customers saying they will boycott the store.

On the other hand, I went to get my hair cut recently and had to pay by cash as their card reader failed. What will happen when technology fails in the cashless venues such as that particular Starbucks branch or that burger restaurant? Will it be a case of no choice, no custom?

There are people who rely on cash and these people tend to be older or on low incomes.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

According to Age Concern Scotland: “Many older people would be lost without cash, which allows them to confidently and safely budget, spend and feel in control of their finances.

“As the cost of living rises, it is more important than ever that older people can access their money in cash form for free whenever they need to. 

“This is particularly important for people on low and fixed incomes, as well as the hundreds of thousands of over 60s in Scotland who do not have access to the internet.”

It could also be said that a cashless society is discriminatory as some people, such as homeless individuals and financial abuse victims, ‘also lack access to the banking system or technological tools needed to fully participate in a cashless economy’ (Huffington Post). Going cashless ‘would essentially allow retailers and restaurants to discriminate against segments of the population by upcharging or denying service.’

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There are those who make comments on social media about ‘luddities’ who should ‘get with the times’ and how ‘it’s progress’ (why do some people insist we blindly follow ‘progress’?). But why force people to do something they would prefer not to? Or maybe not even have the means of doing? For centuries we’ve had cash, and for decades the combination of cash and card have worked well, why not continue this, albeit with an increase in digital choices of paying?

Freedom of choice… is it such a bad thing really?

If we want to live in a dystopian society, cashless is certainly the way to go. Conspiracies abound on the internet of the ‘Great Reset’ which focuses on the ‘elite’s supposed wish to control the 99 per cent of us and a cashless society is part of this supposed vision. Hopefully this conspiracy is just that, a conspiracy, and not a grim prediction of the future. But even the supposed ‘great reset’ aside, cash does give us more power over our lives.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

Even if we have benign politicians now, if in the future we had leaders who were sociopaths, the less control we have, the better for them. A cashless society would give more control to banks. How easy it would be for the state to freeze bank accounts for whatever reason (and no cash would mean no other option for the individual) or record all our transactions allowing no privacy (and maybe using it to control us even more). Financial surveillance ‘can be used to censor and restrict the freedoms of people who express dissenting opinions against the state’ (Huffington Post).

Already one financial organisation, Paypal, has closed the accounts of various organisations including one called the Free Speech Union.

I worry that the choice is gradually being taken away from us – bank branches and ATMs have been closing steadily in Britain. Two thirds of the bank network have closed over the last 30 years. And, of course, if the number of businesses which choose not to serve cash customers increase, it is the start of a slippery slope. Needless to say, it will be the more vulnerable of us who will suffer the most.

In Britain, we now have a new King which means the notes and coins will have to change their appearance and replace the Queen with the new King. It’s a new era for money but I hope the choice will remain.

Perhaps I sound like a luddite but I’m actually pro-card, pro-internet and pro-other means of buying products and services. However, more than that, I’m pro-choice.

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

2022 – and a New Year Goal

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Happy New Year from the Cosy Cottage family! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? In January I like to muse about goals. In the past I have my resolution all decided before January 1, but then forget all about it come January 31. Recently I’ve been more easy-going with the When of making the resolutions, so I may ponder throughout January, decide by the end and try to stick to my new goal in February. It never lasts for the entirety of the year though.

Usually this goal is to ‘get fit’. Easily said. The problem with ‘get fit’ is that there seems to be no point unless it’s consecutive. It needs determination to keep going. A break now and again is fine but not for weeks on end. And if I have a talent for anything fitness-related, it’s the ‘taking a break’.

And then there is the ‘declutter’ goal, I look forward to starting it, read articles about the art of decluttering and cleaning one’s house from top to bottom, make lists and lists, and then get distracted and think about something else.

Maybe chickens. Or finishing a novel I’m currently reading.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on

So I could give up the idea of resolutions but the thing is I find them inspiring. Maybe because January is a new month, a new year and a new start. Maybe because it brings me a sense of excitement and joy in a month that could otherwise be anything but. So I’m sticking to the idea of resolutions – but how do I make them stick?

I’ve been reading about others’ resolutions and a theme I keep seeing is picking a word to stick to, rather than a goal. At first, I didn’t think it would be appropriate for me. How would a single word help me get fit? Help wildlife? Write a novel? Walk a long-distance path (yet to be decided)? But why am I not focusing on any of these? I start being focused and then get distracted. Maybe I have too many goals? I would hate to give up these goals (even if I never reach them!)

Or maybe it’s because I’m not organised enough?

Photo by cottonbro on

Focused could be my go-to word but I think my 2022 word – and goal – is ‘Organised’. I can be focused on one thing but then forget about my other goals. To be ‘organised’ means I will find the time to write a novel, the motivation to get – and stay – fit, the focus on creating a more nature-friendly garden. Hopefully all of these things. I’m not disorganised as such. In fact I don’t think anyone could call me ‘disorganised’. I can do the day-to-day things no problem but in order to find the focus to achieve more, such as fitness, creative, environmental and decluttering goals, my organisational skills could do with improving. If I set myself a certain time to do things or a certain weekly goal maybe that would help? Or should my word be ‘determination’ or ‘focus’? No, 2022 is the year for ‘organisation’ at Cosy Cottage. For now I will stick to my resolution of ‘Organised’. Let’s see how it goes and where this journey will lead!

So welcome 2022 (hope you’re a better year than 2020 and 2021) and welcome my 2022 word ‘Organised’. Now let’s see how to get organised…

Posted in Books, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Books: 127 Hours by Aron Ralston

In 2003, a hiker and mountaineer visited Blue John Canyon in Utah. A freak accident leads to his right hand being trapped by a big boulder and so starts a six-day ordeal of pain, isolation, fear, hunger and thirst. I’ve never watched the film of 127 Hours but it’s definitely on my ‘must watch’ list and even more so after reading the book written by the survivor himself, Aron Ralston.

Aron is an avid mountaineer and experienced hiker. He’s climbed up the fourteeners in Colorado and has ended up in – and survived – various hairy scenarios. We get to know this gradually as he writes alternate chapters – one about his current predicament followed by another focusing on his outdoors life to date. It’s an interesting juxtaposition and the background to his life shows how these previous experiences, good and bad, have shaped Aron into becoming positive and independent, always looking for a solution rather than simply panicking (which is exactly what I would have done in his place!)

The observations and descriptions were incredibly powerful, I could almost imagine what it must have been like in that situation. The cold and the utter isolation during the nights, the desperation and dry thirst during the day…

Thankfully, Aron is made of tough stuff. He’s got out of tricky situations before, he’s helped with a mountain rescue team, so he knows how to observe, keep calm, think of potential solutions and, most importantly, avoid panicking.

His outdoor skills, logical mindset and positive attitude can only go so far however. There is only so much food (burritos to be exact) and water. The canyons are warm during the day but freezing cold at night. It’s remote, so remote that it’s unlikely that anyone will come across him in Blue John Canyon before he runs out of food and water and dies from dehydration. And any attempts to remove the boulder that’s crushed his right hand has failed. Oh, and he didn’t tell anyone exactly where he was going so even the rescue attempt, once people start noticing his absence, will be a difficult one before it even begins.

Perhaps not surprisingly considering the lack of food and water, Aron hallucinates – or are they spiritual experiences? Whatever the case, for Aron, these experiences come at a time when he is rapidly losing hope; when he believes with utter certainty that he will not live to see the next day.

This has to be one of my favourite books of this year, with each chapter ending with a ‘cliffhanger’ so to speak. And although I know that Aron survived (he’s written the book so this is no plot spoiler), I am fascinated to know just how exactly he managed to survive…

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Book: Wisdom of the Ages by Wayne W Dyer

Photo by Charl Durand on

I’m sure I can’t have been the only one who has been musing on the ‘big questions’ during the last 18 months, a strange and difficult time.

One I asked myself was: ‘What’s the secret of genuine happiness?’ Or perhaps not exactly happiness, but a sense of contentment, inner contentment.

Last year I realised that I wasn’t as in control of my life as I had assumed. A serious illness could take health away, life away, and loved ones away. Luckily it hadn’t (so far, touch wood) but the worry was there. It had occurred to me before but not to the same overwhelming extent as these last two years.

Governments now had the power to take freedoms away at little or no notice, including those things that were always taken for granted.

Nothing was permanent, it seemed, and it made me feel rather ill at ease. As if I wasn’t in control anymore, even of the little things.

It wasn’t just that though. My faith in politics, people in power, and many elements of the media was ebbing away. I found what was going on in the world increasingly draining. There seemed to be more and more hatred, intolerance, judgement, division and conflict.

One day, I was out for a stroll, musing on the question, ‘If life is so uncertain, what’s the best way to find inner contentment?’

What’s the secret? Is it power, money? Well, both those can disappear too. And it seems to me that sometimes the more power someone has, the more they want; the more money someone has, the more they want. It can become an addiction. And of course bad things can still happen to the very rich and the very powerful. Neither wealth or power is a guarantee for happiness or contentment.

Now, this is just my personal belief and maybe I could be wrong. But the conclusion I came to was this: maybe, just maybe, the answer to gaining contentment is wisdom. A different way of looking at the world. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a wise person “has or shows experience, knowledge, and good judgement”.

Photo by Charl Durand on

I’ve heard it said that once you start looking for signs, they will begin to appear. Maybe, maybe not.

But a few weeks later, I was curious to find a book, Wisdom of the Ages, at a car boot sale. It looked quite tatty and dirty but, along with two other books, cost a pound in total. Bargain. After a quick clean, it looked as good as new.

Wisdom of the Ages

I haven’t read it all yet. It’s an ongoing project and, indeed, its author Wayne W Dyer recommends reading a chapter a day as a ‘two-month renovation project of your soul’. He suggests reading one section each day and to try to apply the guidance that comes at the end of the chapter. So, 60 subjects, 60 wise teachers from all eras, cultures and corners of the globe, spanning areas from religion to literature to philosophy and so on.

I have read the New Testament and knew Jesus would have wise words to say (and he does) and that the nature-loving and spiritual Native Americans such as Chief Seattle would be able to teach us ‘Reverence for Nature’, but then there are those who appear in this book who are more unexpected such as Shelley and Michaelangelo.

Martin Luther King, Buddha, Rumi, Confucius and St Francis of Assisi can also be found.

Subjects include Inspiration, Judgement, Humility, Balance, Communication and Patience. I’m still in the process of reading and learning but it’s proving to be an inspiring read. If only those in power could learn to be wise!

Below are some excerpts from the book:

Each time you hear news reports [about hostility and hatred], remember that for every act of inhumanity to man, there are a thousand acts of kindness.

Wayne W Dyer

Peace: Decide to always choose that which brings you and others a sense of inner and outer peace.

Wayne W Dyer

In our way of life, with every decision we make, we always keep in mind the Seventh Generation to come. It’s our job to see that the people coming ahead have a world no worse than ours – and hopefully better.

Oren Lyons

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

A Poison Tree by William Blake

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Nature, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: The Other Environmental Crisis

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Increasingly there has been more and more talk from politicians about climate change. There has been widescale protests from groups such as Extinction Rebellion and the young activist Greta Thurnberg has spoken out against the climate changing. Personally I believe there has always been climate change taking place over a gradual basis for millions of years – but the meddling with nature by humans over the past couple of hundred years has damaged the balance and has exacerbated and quickened the changes.

When the powers-that-be focused on the climate, I was glad that finally people at the top seemed to start caring about nature. But I then started to feel that the focus seemed very much on ‘green technology’. Is this type of technology really green? For example, where do the batteries for electric cars come from? I don’t know but I don’t believe technology is the be-all and end-all. If I were in politics, I would also opt for more incentives to use public transport; safer, more attractive and convenient paths to walk on; better cycle routes…

Behind all the talk about climate change, there is another emergency going on that is closely connected to the issue. This is the biodiversity emergency.

According to the WWF: “Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.”


But the WWF adds: “As humans put increasing pressure on the planet, using and consuming more resources than ever before, we risk upsetting the balance of ecosystems and losing biodiversity.”

The wildlife charity’s found the global populations of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians had declined by 60 per cent (on average) since 1970. 

Borneo’s forests are vital for biodiversity – but too often attracts humans wanting to plunder it for natural resources such as trees, coal, metals, minerals and rubber. Depressingly, the WWF says 30 per cent of Borneo’s forests have been destroyed in only 40 years. Of course this will have an impact on its wildlife. Half of all critically endangered Bornean orangutans have been lost in the past 20 years. 

The decline of biodiversity is happening in Britain too. In a recent RSPB magazine, it stated that the latest State of Nature reports that the abundance and distribution of nature in the UK has declined by 13 and five per cent respectively since the 1970s. Since the 1950s, the UK has lost roughly one wildflower species per county, per year – these are vital for moths, butterflies and other insects. Indeed, the abundance of butterflies has decreased by 16 per cent. Insects, as well as being important for pollination, are important food for birds.

What happens to one species affects another, such is the way of ecosystems. According to State of Nature report, the causes are “agricultural management, climate change, urbanisation, pollution, woodland management and invasive non-native species.”

Climate change harms nature, but so too does pollution. So too does habitat loss and urbanisation. If wildlife has no home, how can it exist? Thank goodness for environmental charities such as the Woodland Trust and the RSPB. They buy land and maintain it as nature reserves and woodland.

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Climate change has a negative impact on wildlife but if we work with nature – not against it as we have done in the past and present day – we can, I believe, help to combat climate change, or at least reduce its most harmful effects. And at the same time, we will help the planet get back into its rightful balance. But humans have to realise that we are part of the natural world. In a religious, spiritual and ecological sense, I suspect we are meant to be the caretakers of the planet – not the lords and masters.

The hypocrisy of the world’s politicians strikes me. The UK’s Prime Minister is good at talking the talk, not so good when it comes to actually genuinely caring about the environment. He and his party want another runway at Heathrow Airport; they wanted to plough on with HS2, a very expensive and unnecessary high speed train that will destroy ancient woodlands; they are seemingly intent on destroying wildlife habitat for often unnecessary office and home developments – even though there are many empty and derelict buildings in urban and suburban landscapes that could and should be used. Now he will proclaim how Britain will be carbon neutral. You want to be carbon neutral? Why not put nature first – protect our wildlife habitats, leave our green spaces alone, create more nature reserves. Look after nature and we will find nature will more than likely return the favour.

WWF – Endangered Species Conservation | World Wildlife Fund


What is biodiversity? | Pages | WWF (

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Us and Them during the coronavirus pandemic

Photo by CDC on

When the pandemic first hit last year, Britain was already becoming a divided place politically. Of course, there have always been opposing points of view and political parties vying for power but, for the most part, debates were generally good natured. And then the EU referendum happened and the opposing sides were called ‘racists’ and ‘snowflakes’, debate got more and more fiery. When the result to leave – a close result – came in, the temperature became even more heated. There were calls for a second referendum; political parties stood for staying in, another vote or leaving; there were arguments among families and friends. Brexit, as the referendum result was called, dominated the news to the extent that I am not entirely sure what else was going on in the world in those days. On the news in the evenings I could see EU protests behind the newsreader and at times I felt a sense of dread. People were very angry on both sides.

Photo by Anthony Beck on

And then Brexit was forgotten about as if by magic. A pandemic hit the world and the news focused on that. And at the start, apart from the toilet paper wars in the supermarkets when shoppers greedily bought up all the remaining toilet rolls, there felt a sense of unity (to me at least). This type of crisis had never happened before in our lifetime and although we were stepping away from each other on our daily walks in case of infection, there still felt a sense of camaraderie. There was a NHS clap on Thursdays, 8pm sharp; Captain Tom with his £30 million fundraising walk around his garden; morale-boosting dances on TikTok; volunteers helping out… We were on the same page at last. Or so it seemed.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

Except a darker, more judgemental side to humanity started coming out. From the best of intentions, the NHS clap became an excuse by some ‘clappers’ to judge their non-clapping neighbours. And some of those who didn’t clap couldn’t understand what they saw as the ‘virture signalling’ of the gesture. Lockdowns had many controversies in themselves. Some people wanted to stay locked down until the virus completely went away. Others believed lockdown was unnecessary and wrong from the very beginning. There were bickerings about the lockdown rules themselves.

Photo by Bruno Cervera on

It became illegal not to wear a mask in certain places (unless people had an exemption). I had no issue wearing one although they did make my glasses steam up! However, some people had genuine reasons for not being able to wear one. I know a man who, when visiting a book shop, was asked if he had asthma attacks when he told the bookseller he had asthma (one of the exemptions). Rather a personal question – needless to say, he didn’t buy anything from that shop.

I came across a Mumsnet forum about masks on the internet. A victim of sexual assault wasn’t able to wear a mask as covering her mouth up brought back horrific memories and gave her panic attacks. This was no excuse for some of the virtuous members of Mumsnet though, who always wore masks to look after others. The sexual assault victim was being selfish of course, at least in their eyes.

Photo by CDC on

The latest bone of contention are the vaccines. I’ve had both so am no anti-vaxxer but believe that people should have a choice as to what goes into their body. But there is talk about vaccine passports (maybe it’s fine for big gatherings, if it’s on a strictly temporary basis – such as during an emergency, and there is an alternative of a test, but what if this isn’t the case?) I am no conspiracy theorist, but I do think that while we may currently accept we’re living in unprecedented times, we should always be aware of potential slippery slopes.

I have a friend who is reluctant to get a certain vaccine because there have been blood clots in her family and there have been reports of vaccine-related clots. She decided to wait until another vaccine became available. A very valid reason but I suspect she too feels judged.

Photo by Thirdman on

A lot has happened over the past year. Some people have died, have suffered, are still suffering from the illness itself. Some are vulnerable because of health conditions and are frightened of getting Covid. Some haven’t been able to see their loved ones for many months because they live far away, in another country, or maybe they’re in a care home with strict rules. Lockdown isolation and loneliness has damaged some people’s mental health. And then others have lost jobs, businesses, wages, homes… And then there are those who are terrified of us all gradually slipping into a dystopian society. Who would have dreamt two years ago we would have accepted lockdowns? It would have been unheard of!

I read somewhere, we are all in the same storm but we’re in different boats. We all have our fears, but they may be of very different things and unfortunately there seems to be no one-fit-all solution. One person’s answer (lockdown) may feel like a recipe for destitution to another. Another solution which aims to save jobs (ending lockdown) may feel like inviting death.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

Like Brexit, it often feels that society is becoming divided into ‘them’ and ‘us’. The non-mask wearers, mask wearers, vaccinated, non-vaccinated, the pro-lockdown, the anti-lockdown, the old, the young … Instead of an intelligent and measured debate, both sides resort to name calling – the sheeple and the covidiots. The lockdown lovers and the granny killers.

Like Brexit, why take part in a reasoned debate when you can call each other names like five-year-old children? When did life become so ‘black and white’ rather than have nuances of grey? I have been guilty of this way of thinking too, judging and making assumptions. I have also changed my mind several times over the last year. Covid has really made me realise how different all our lives, priorities and fears are. Same storm. Different boats.

Photo by Anna Shvets on

There is a lot of division, hatred, fear and negativity in the world right now. It doesn’t have to be this way, in fact, in shouldn’t be this way. If humans are supposedly intelligent enough to fly into space, why can’t our species actually talk to each other, listen to each other and work with each other? Imagine what we could do with a little more cooperation and a little less judgement and hypocrisy? End poverty, stop persecution, hatred and wars, solve the climate change crisis, protect our vital natural wild spaces, save endangered animals from extinction..?

Live in a more peaceful and contented world?

Maybe it feels natural to fall back into our tribe mentality, especially when we feel fear, but I don’t think that’s good for our health. Which is ironic during a pandemic.

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality, Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures, Walks

Morecambe Bay: Sunderland Point and Sambo’s Grave

Sunderland Point

Lancashire’s underrated scenery is often ignored in favour of its more popular, more famous, more spectacular neighbour, the Lake District. Lancastrians will often head to the Lakes for a day’s hiking or a weekend away (I am no exception, look at my previous mountain rambles detailed on this blog!) Holidaymakers will drive past the county in their bid to reach Wordsworth’s Paradise of the Lakes and Mountains. Even my Lonely Planet Walking in Britain book features the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the Lake District but apparently there are no walks to be had in Lancashire! No scenic beauty!


There are many beauty spots in this very county and one such is Morecambe Bay, a destination crammed with nature, beauty and history.

Sunderland Point

Even in the modern age, there are places of stillness and tranquillity where you feel far, far away from the 21st century – and one such spot is a remote village called Sunderland Point. Author Karen Lloyd describes it as “if a warp in time as well as space had been crossed. Take away the street lights and TV aerials and you could imagine yourself back in the 18th century”. I cannot help but agree, that too was my impression of this unique olde worlde place.

It sits at the southern end of Morecambe Bay, at the end of a tidal causeway – which helps give it an isolated feeling – and overlooks the River Lune.

But behind this serene exterior lies a dark past. This lovely, tiny hamlet of only a few houses, which overlooks such a peaceful scene, actually has a tragic history.

Sambo’s Grave

There is a spot in this remote haven called Sambo’s Grave. Sambo (the name given, no one knows his real name) is believed to have been a black slave boy, possibly the only survivor of a shipwreck off Sunderland Point, although no one really knows his story.

In 1796, this grave was erected by Rev James Watson – about 60 years after the death of ‘Sambo’.

This remote hamlet was once seen as important because of its connection to slavery. In the early 1700s, the village was developed as an outport for the neighbouring city Lancaster, which was heavily involved in the slave trade.

According to Karen Lloyd’s The Gathering Tide, between 1736 and 1807, around 29,000 slaves were carried from West Africa to the West Indies on Lancaster’s ships.

However, Sunderland’s contribution to the slave trade was short-lived. By the end of the 1700s, Sunderland was no longer the go-to port. There were problems with the River Lune silting and competition from new ports – the newly constructed neighbour, Glasson Dock, and the much bigger Liverpool. Sunderland Point had now become ‘Cape Famine’.

It is strange to see a juxtaposition of beauty – the scenery, the tranquility, the wildlife – and the horror of the misery and suffering of slavery.

The grave was erected 60 years after the boy’s death

And yet, have we, the human species, moved on? Perhaps not. There are still atrocious human rights abuses taking place all over the world on a daily basis.

Our species can send astronauts out to space and to the moon, create vaccines and boast about AI and the latest technology, and yet too many humans still don’t know how to treat others with even the most basic levels of compassion and respect. How to treat others in the same way they themselves would like to be treated.

But I still have hope that one day our descendants will have a future where people can live alongside each other in harmony and peace. One can only hope…

Sambo’s Grave

Information about Sunderland Point comes from The Gathering Tide by Karen Lloyd

Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Reblog, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Our Beautiful Planet


Back in 2017, not long after I started blogging, I wrote this. It felt relevant to me at the time. It feels even more so now. It seems as if we live in an increasingly polarised and divisive world. It’s Them versus Us. Us versus Them. Who ‘they’ are and who ‘we’ are varies, depending on the individual and their world view. But one thing seems true to me, we are heading further and further away from each other. We stay within our echo chambers and put our hands on our ears so we cannot listen to the other side of the debate or other people’s experiences. We revert back to primary school and call each other insults rather than listen. Personally, I don’t think anything will be solved with this attitude. We need to work together on issues of poverty, discrimination, persecution, homelessness, prejudice, violence, conflict etc. We need to look after each other, especially the more vulnerable. We need to be able to co-exist with other species in harmony and respect their natural habitat. We need to care about our planet.

Often at Cosy Cottage, I watch the blue and great tits fluttering over to the bird feeder to nibble fat ball snacks. (Yes, Cosy Cottage also operates as a café for my feathered chums).

And while I do, I brood upon the state of the world.

Is it me or do labels divide us?

Who are you? Are you male, female, transgender, intersex, gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, brown, mixed race, Christian, Catholic, CofE, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, agnostic, atheist, Tory, Labour, Lib Democrats, Green, Remainer, Leaver, poor, rich, comfortable, British, English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American …?

And so on… And so on…

Of course, we are this and that, that and the other. I am some of these descriptions too. Of course I am. They form part of each and everyone’s identity and certainly I am proud of my Celtic heritage.

But what if we focus on these labels to such an extent that other issues are forgotten?

Like the planet. Endangered species. Pollution.

Would things be better if, instead of thinking of ourselves and each other in terms of our gender/race/sexuality/religion (etc etc) identities as our first concern, we look at each other primarily as

1. Humans.

2. Humans who live on a beautiful planet – which we really should start looking after as it is our home!

3. Humans who share our home (planet) with our fellow beings (other species) who have just the same right to live here as we do.

For any religious readers, I do believe that, if there is a God, He would want us to look after the planet given to us … And care for each other, humans and animals.

And for non-religious readers, even without a God, why would we want to mess up the home we all live in? Why arrogantly assume we are the only species which matters? Or leave our planet in a polluted, disease-ridden, barren state for the next generation?

Facts of the Day

1. Elephants face serious threats including illegal killing for ivory and habitat destruction. In 1900, there were 10 million elephants. In 2014, there were only 420,000. (

2. It takes plastic 400 years to degrade in water.


3. Chemicals such as pesticides, found in polluted water, can contaminate food chains through affected marine life. This can lead to nervous system damage, hormonal problems amongst others. (


Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

Coronavirus Diaries: Stay Safe, Stay At Home

Photo by Edward Jenner on

I wrote this post on May 9. Since then (June 6), lockdown has eased a little and we can now meet others outside. I met Simon for a walk half way between our two counties and my friend Caroline for a ‘social distanced’ cup of tea in her garden.

The worst thing for me personally are the negative feelings. Thankfully, these are always temporary and don’t last long, my wellbeing is generally okay, but I am aware that the pandemic and lockdown must be affecting many people in so many adverse ways.

If you’re suffering from mental illness and need help, please look up a mental health charity/services based in the country you live in and get in touch with them for advice. (For the UK, there’s

Photo by CDC on

May 9: Many of us around the world will be going through a weird dystopian phase right now thanks to a virus. In Britain, we are currently in lockdown, it has been called a ‘soft’ one as we are allowed out for exercise.

Even though this is supposedly ‘soft’, this is affecting people badly in so many ways.

In Britain we have a slogan – Stay at Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives. I am working from home but for broadband reasons I work from my parents’ house. We are effectively two reclusive households (living two miles apart) behaving as one.

black and brown desk globe
Photo by Bruno Cervera on

I go to the small Tesco convenience supermarket about 8pm, it’s quieter then. I have walked the family dogs, Teddy and Molly, in quiet country lanes and in suburban settings, moving away from passers-by – and they from me – as if we all have the plague.

I haven’t seen my partner Simon for nearly two months. A long-distance relationship of ten years, we usually meet every three weeks. I think, hope, we can survive this uncertainty as a couple.

I stay in touch with friends via texts and messages. Maybe I will get the hang of video hangouts one day.

I spend my weekdays working and my weekends with my animals, reading through my To Be Read list, working through a course and writing. There is the decluttering which I keep putting off but needs doing as well…

My lockdown pile of books

At night, I have started having wistful dreams of visiting secondhand book shops and going for a swim. Choosing a gym.

I am having flashbacks of previous weekends away and holidays, days out and meeting friends and family. The fear of climbing down Helvellyn and other mountains (and the exhilaration afterwards) and the simple pleasure of a pot of tea in a village cafe or browsing in a book shop for an hour.


I miss seeing Simon and my friends.

Having the freedom to go places without stressing about social distance or ‘is this even allowed?’

I’ve worked in a precarious industry for years so job uncertainty has always been the background for me – but I always thought if and when I got made redundant, there would be other jobs, other opportunities.

Now I’m not so sure.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

Seeing my parents, being around my animals, keeping in touch via technology, nature, reading and writing keeps me going. Being an introvert and happy in my own company helps.

But this is only my story, how are others faring? So far, this virus and the lockdown hasn’t touched me too badly compared to others. Others have died, lost loved ones, lost jobs or businesses… This pandemic will hurt many of us in some way.

The irony is that I felt last year went too fast, I wanted it to slow down. 2020? I can’t wait for it to be over and normality to return.




Posted in Environment, Environmental issues, Thoughts on life and spirituality

Our World: Coronavirus

Photo by CDC on

One of the things which is helping me through this strange time is nature. Watching the starlings frolicking about on the lawn and great tits move in and out of their bird box in my garden, presumably feeding youngsters, has helped me appreciate the simple but important things in life.

Ironically, nature is (unless you believe in the 5G theory or that the virus originates from a lab) also the cause of coronavirus.

It is my belief that cruelty to animals and a total contempt for nature has resulted in coronavirus.

The ‘wet markets’ are absolutely horrific from what I’ve heard. They sell dead and live animals in closely confined spaces and the animals are butchered on the site. These markets are extremely cruel – there are no animal welfare standards – and unhygienic. 

Is it any wonder that interfering with the natural world has resulted in this catastrophe?

person holding petri dish
Photo by Anna Shvets on

Scientists all over the world are working on a vaccine.

When there will be a vaccine, I don’t know, but in the meantime many of us are suffering.

We have either suffered from coronavirus itself; know someone who has had it – or even died from Covid-19; are stressing about our jobs; missing our freedom and loved ones; suffering from domestic violence, family tensions, a decline in mental or physical health … The list goes on.

Photo by Edward Jenner on

My fear is that, for as long as we humans interfere with nature, these viruses will continue to grow, mutate and spread. We are supposed to live alongside nature, not destroy it. I wonder if this attitude of contempt will eventually destroy us, the human species.