Mike Vickers' Blog

September 23, 2019

Greta Thunberg at the UN

Filed under: Climate Change, Greta Thunberg, History in the making, Sustainability, Trump — derryvickers @ 7:32 pm

I find it difficult to know how to tackle Climate Change, I am too old for it to affect me, but the children now will suffer in many ways, ways not even to contemplate.
Climate Change and its effects has been with me for a very long time.  I remember a book years ago titled ‘BeforeNature Dies’
I note it’s still avaiable:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3718781-before-nature-dies

Who said Thunberg couldn’t speak;  what more could she have said and with what better emphasis?

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/23/greta-thunberg-speech-un-2019-address

The new Messiah but is she too late; Cheers by the UN but little commitment
And Trump walked by

 

June 9, 2019

The Guardian

Filed under: Communications, Journalism, Personal, Sustainability, World Class — derryvickers @ 6:58 am

The Guardian Newspaper – why I read it

As child in WW2 I was introduced to the Guardian at home because the only paper available from the local newsagent Was The Manchester Guardian; may be because we lived in Congleton not more than 25 miles from Manchester.

Anyway, the Guardian stuck to me and I have read it ever since. Even when I was abroad as a consultant there was the Guardian Weekly on the newsstand or failing that I could get it by post; the postal version used to be printed on very thin but durable paper; lovely!

I still get the Guardian Weekly posted to me even though I am back in Scotland.

And I cheat, I read the Guardian online daily, for which I feel honour bound to pay a quarterly subscription.

For those who do not know the background and the Policy of the (Manchester) Guardian just get a flavour by reading Katharine Viner’s (the editor) history at

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/nov/16/a-mission-for-journalism-in-a-time-of-crisis

May 31, 2019

Knoydart: una comunità con un futuro.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Scotland, Sustainability, Travel — derryvickers @ 2:41 pm

Archiviato in: Knoydart, proprietà fondiaria, ferrovie, realtà, sostenibilità — derryvickers @ 11:46 am modifica questo

Abbiamo trascorso tre giorni a Knoydart soggiornando nella Bunkhouse della Knoydart Foundation a Inverie. Inverie è il villaggio principale, anzi l’unico villaggio.

The Village

Il villaggio

Ci sono alcune case sparse in tutta la peninsulare.

Abbiamo fatto due buone passeggiate da Inverie, a Doune dove c’è un buon ristorante vicino alla riva (anche se a 200 metri in discesa ci siamo astenuti dal campionamento) e alla cascata su una bruciatura sotto Ladhar Beinn (un Munro), ciascuno circa 20 km.

The Waterfall

La cascata

 

Vedi mappa semplice

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

Una semplice mappa di Knoydart

Un piccolo background: Knoydart fu uno dei primi acquisti della Comunità dal proprietario terriero della penisola di Knoydart. La metà è ora di proprietà della Comunità, mentre l’altra metà è di proprietà del John Muir Trust. Knoydart non è un’isola, anche se in realtà è come non vi è alcun collegamento stradale alla comunità. Si può raggiungere a piedi da Loch Hourn, ma ci vogliono due giorni oltre brughiera. Si può anche camminare da Glenfinnan ma al momento c’è un ponte vitale sostituito.

Cito “la Fondazione Knoydart è stata istituita nel 1997 per lavorare per conto della Comunità nel prendere la proprietà della zona di terra coperta da Knoydart estate in quel momento. La penisola di Knoydart, che non è collegata alla rete stradale continentale, fa parte di un’ area panoramica nazionale (Clicca per scaricare il foglio informativo). ”

Per un po’ più di dettaglio vedere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart con un sacco di foto.

Ma l’essenza di Knoydart è la sua comunità che ha costruito fino a circa 100 persone. Knoydart fu efficacemente cancellato durante le Highland Clearances. Le persone naturalmente lasciano, ma più arrivano. C’è ora una scuola primaria attiva, mentre i bambini delle scuole secondarie sono boarder settimanali a Mallaig.

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

Mallaig – un porto occupato

la città più vicina con un collegamento stradale continentale. _ la Comunità deve essere autoportante e c’è il negozio del villaggio, il caffè gestito da due eccellenti sorelle da forno, l’ufficio della Fondazione e il local pub che afferma di essere il più lontano ovest sulla terraferma di qualsiasi pub in nel Regno Unito. L’elettricità è alimentata da un sistema idroelettrico degnato e costruito a livello locale, fornito da un vicino lago e TV e Internet da un ricevitore/trasmettitore, alto sopra il villaggio; anche, casa progettato e costruito. Lo schema è comune collegamento in Mallaig e South Skye pure.

Un’attività principale è la registrazione per l’esportazione

The Timber Yard

Il cantiere del legname

; case sono sorprendentemente costruite in legno e ci sono alcune belle nuove nel villaggio. La terra viene reimpiantata per il futuro, anche se le piantature semplici abbondano ancora.

The Waterfall

Un boschetto di betulla incontaminata sulla strada per la cascata

. Mentre lo stalking del cervo può essere considerato uno sport dei ricchi, su Knoydart è una necessità come i cervi devono essere abbattuta per controllare il loro numero; nuova scherma abbonda. La Fondazione sta per iniziare a raddoppiare le dimensioni della sala del villaggio; è il centro della Comunità, ma ha bisogno di espandersi per fornire una casa per tutto ciò che va avanti. Un nostro amico è Davie Newton che intraprende e dirige la gestione operativa. C’è sempre molto da fare e mentre eravamo lì, c’era un gruppo di volontari ‘ jolly ‘ dal John Muir Trust rifacendo i fossati; l’acqua piovana è sempre un problema.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Il team di volontari di John Muir

Anche se non c’è alcun collegamento stradale al mondo esterno Knoydart ha la propria rete stradale e auto e 4by4s sono traghettato e molto apprezzato! Il traghetto è naturalmente un collegamento essenziale per le persone e il cibo e per sottoscrivere come c’è fiducia nella Comunità la compagnia di traghetti, Western Isles Cruises, ha recentemente acquisito una nuova barca veloce che si strati tra Mallaig e Inverie e il tempo di attraversamento è ridotto da tre quarti di un’ora a meno di mezz’ora con la più antica barca tradizionale (che è ancora in servizio).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

La grande barca con rhum in lontananza

Una caratteristica fondamentale dello sviluppo è la gestione della terra e c’è un Ranger dedicato e molto attivo, Amie, che gestisce la terra e si concentra sulla “sostenibilità” in particolare piantando nuovi alberi. Sottolinea che le foreste più vecchie non possono essere facilmente raccolte perché sono state piantate con l’estrazione di cavalli e non ci sono più cavalli su Knoydart; un cambiamento non facilmente reversibile dove i trattori ora dominano.  Amie organizza viaggi organizzati intorno alla sua Land Rover; La Land Rover Defender è la dominante 4 per 4 non sorprende e non sono chiaro che cosa accadrà a pezzi di ricambio ora la Land Rover non li stanno facendo più. Naturalmente, i turisti sono una fonte di ricchezza e Inverie è un centro per escursionisti appassionati che arrivano in barca o in da Loch Hourn e Glenfinnan.

Per inciso, per i tifosi di Stuart Glenfinnan è dove Bonny Prince Charlie alzò il suo standard nel 1745. Più recentemente per i fan di Harry Potter, il ruscello Jacobite scorre tra Fort William e Mallaig via Glenfinnan sul viadotto di cemento Bob. Il treno e gli allenatori erano a Mallaig stazione quando siamo arrivati

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

Il Jacobite in attesa di partire da Mallaig

A mio modo di vedere, la comunità di Knoydart deve essere lodata; hanno acquistato e istituito la Fondazione e nel corso dei pochi anni siamo stati andando a Knoydart la Comunità sta crescendo in forza e resilienza e forse, soprattutto, la vita sta assumendo una “normalità”. Apprezzo che la vita in estate sembra facile (a parte i moscerini)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

Tramonto guardando verso rhum

ma poi ci sono i lunghi inverni bui, anche se alcuni della comunità ci hanno detto che questi sono giorni migliori in quanto possono rilassarsi e fare ciò che non possono in estate. La Scozia ha bisogno di tali comunità, sostituzioni per i villaggi rimossi dai Clearances, ed è bello vedere Knoydart fiorente e il New Village Hall è un segno per il futuro positivo.

Knoydart: A Community with a future.

Filed under: Knoydart, Land Ownership, Railways, Reality, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 11:46 am

We spend three days at Knoydart staying in the Knoydart Foundation’s bunkhouse at Inverie. Inverie is the main village, indeed the only village.

The Village

There are a few scattered houses across the peninsular.

We did two good walks from Inverie, to Doune where there is a good restaurant near the shore (although at 200 meters downhill we refrained from sampling) and to the Waterfall on a burn below Ladhar Beinn (a Munro), each around 20 kms.

The Waterfall

 

See simple map

Map of the peninsula

A Simple Map of Knoydart

A little background: Knoydart was one of the early buys out by the Community from the landowner of the Knoydart Peninsular. Half is now owned by the Community while the other half is owned by the John Muir Trust. Knoydart is not an island although effectively it is as there is no road connection to the Community. You can walk there from Loch Hourn, but it takes two days over moorland. You can also walk from Glenfinnan but at present there is a vital bridge being replaced.

I quote ‘The Knoydart Foundation was established in 1997 to work on behalf of the community in taking ownership of the area of land covered by Knoydart Estate at the time. The Knoydart peninsula, which is not connected to the mainland road network, is part of a National Scenic Area (click to download information leaflet).’

For a little more detail see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knoydart with plenty of photos.

But the essence of Knoydart is its community which has built up to around 100 people. Knoydart was effectively cleared during the Highland Clearances. People do of course leave but more arrive. There is now an active primary school while secondary school children are weekly boarders at Mallaig

Boats at Mallaig Pier

Mallaig – a busy port

the nearest town with a mainland road connection._ The community must be self-supporting and there is the village shop, the cafe run by two excellent baking sisters, the Foundation Office and the Local Pub which claims to be the furthest west on the mainland of any pub in the UK. Electricity is powered by a locally deigned and built hydro scheme supplied from a nearby loch and TV and Internet from a receiver / transmitter, high above the village; also, home designed and built. The scheme is communal linking in Mallaig and South Skye as well.

A main activity is logging for export

The Timber Yard

; houses are unsurprisingly built from wood and there are some lovely new ones in the village. Land is being replanted for the future although simple plantings still abound

An untouched birch grove on the way to the Waterfall

. While deer stalking may be considered a sport of the wealthy, on Knoydart it is a necessity as the deer need to be culled to control their numbers; new fencing abounds. The Foundation is about to start doubling size of the Village Hall; it is the centre of the Community but needs expanding to provide a home for all that goes on.
A friend of ours is Davie Newton who undertakes and directs the operational management. There is always plenty to do and while we were there, there was a group of ‘jolly’ volunteers from the John Muir Trust redoing the ditches; rainwater is always a problem.

John Muir Volunteers

The John Muir Team of Volunteers

Although there is no road connection to the outside world Knoydart has its own road network and cars and 4by4s are ferried in and much appreciated! The ferry is of course an essential connection for people and food and to underwrite how there is faith in the community the Ferry Company, Western Isles Cruises, has recently acquired a new fast boat which plies between Mallaig and Inverie and the crossing time has reduced from three quarters of an hour to less than half an hour with the older more traditional boat (which is still in service).

The big boat with Rhum in the distance

A key feature of development is managing the land and there is a dedicated and very active Ranger, Amie, who manages the land and concentrates on ‘Sustainability’ particularly planting new trees. She points out that the older forests can’t be easily harvested because they were planted with horse extraction and there are no horses on Knoydart anymore; a not easily reversible change where tractors now dominate.  Amie provides organized trips round her Land Rover; The Land Rover Defender is the dominant 4 by 4 not surprisingly and I am unclear what will happen to spares now the Land Rover are not making them anymore.
Of course, tourists are a source of wealth and Inverie is a centre for keen walkers coming by boat or in from Loch Hourn and Glenfinnan.

As an aside, for Stuart fans Glenfinnan is where Bonny Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745. More recently for Harry Potter fans the Jacobite Stream hauled train runs between Fort William and Mallaig via Glenfinnan over Concrete Bob’s viaduct. The train and coaches were in Mallaig Station when we arrived

The Jacobite waiting to depart from Mallaig

As I see it the Knoydart community is to be lauded; they have bought out and set up the foundation and over the few years we have been going to Knoydart the community is growing in strength and resilience and perhaps more importantly life is taking on a ‘normality’. I appreciate that life in the Summer looks easy (apart from the midges)

Sunset looking towards Rhum

but then there are the long dark winters, although some of the community have told us these are better days as they can relax and do what they can’t in the summer. Scotland needs such communities, replacements for the villages removed by the Clearances, and it is good to see Knoydart flourishing and the New Village Hall is a sign for the positive future.

May 24, 2019

Fit the Best – Fit Everest – Beetles fans queuing in Edinburg

Filed under: In Our Time, Music, Reality, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 9:48 pm

A busy day on Everest

A Busy Day on Everest

I used to stand in queues like this to watch The Big A Movie.

Is it real or just a cinematic invention?

If true then it is NOT sustainable

 

 

 

Compare with the Fans queuing for Beetles Film in Edinburgh 1966

Queuing for Beetles

Queuing for Beetles Film Edinburgh

April 24, 2019

The Last Supper Then and Now

Leonardo's Last Supper

Greta Thunberg talking with Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn at the UK Parliament on 23 April 2019.

Greta Thunberg should be encouraged to speak to the UK Parliament as a whole.

In any case, if Trump is allowed to speak to the UK Parliament in June (and I hope Bercow succeeds again in stopping him) then Greta should be invited to follow immediately afterwards.

 

April 16, 2019

Notre Dame

Filed under: Europe, In Our Time, Italian, Notre Dame, Sustainability, Travel, World Class — derryvickers @ 3:17 pm

Molti anni fa, ben circa dieci anni, noi, come una famiglia, abbiamo visitato Parigi per il fine settimana con Ryan Air. Siamo andati in giro, siamo passati SacréCoeur, abbiamo visitato il Louvre, visto il Mona visto da lontano e siamo andati al centro Pompidou con tutte le sue tubazioni esterne, e abbiamo salito la Torre Eiffel. Abbiamo apprezzato molto la cucina francese.

E, naturalmente, abbiamo accodato per andare in giro per la Notre Dame.

Non sarà aperto di nuovo nella mia vita, ma speriamo che nostri figli  saranno in grado di farlo. Anche così non può essere proprio come prima del fuoco. Capisco che ora non ci sono alberi abbastanza alti almeno in Francia per sostituire i legni del tetto.

I giornali sono pieni di bruciato, ma non catturerà la tragedia di essere solo sul Seine e guardare il tetto crollare.

April 12, 2019

Our Young are showing The Way

Filed under: Climate Change, Education, Greta Thunberg, Italian, Sustainability, World Class — derryvickers @ 2:28 pm

What more is there to say, other than Bully for all of you out there who spending your Easter holidays on the picket lines

https://ukscn.org/ys4c-where

The Guardian article

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/live/2019/apr/12/youth-climate-change-protests-across-britain-live

A Young Volunteer

 

From Corriere della Sera

Greta Thunberg invita all’assemblea di FridaysForFuture in Italia

Appuntamento a Milano il 13 aprile per discutere la direzione che deve prendere il movimento studentesco contro il climate change che il 15 marzo ha riempito le piazze del mondo

 

 

 

 

 

November 24, 2016

‘You can say Yes but at some point you have to say No’. Heartbreaking

Filed under: Europe, History in the making, Nordic Horizons, Personal, Sustainability — derryvickers @ 3:18 pm

Mikael Ribbenvik (MR)

Valkommen till Sverige – Migration & Asylum in Europe’s Most Welcoming Country – A seminar at Nordic Horizons

I can do no better than start with Chris Smith’s eulogy on the Seminar

Last night was dazzling. Mikael Ribbenvik of the Swedish Migration Agency was funny, informative, challenging and thought provoking. We will be posting a recording of the live stream in the coming days and it is a ‘must view’. He makes sense of global migration in a way that will leave you angry and encouraged at the same time. In a world of post facts politics, the Swedes are using data to inform both policy and operations; using the correlation between Mediterranean wave heights and movement trends to plan for arrivals, as an example. There is a health warning before viewing, you may want to become a Swede after his presentation. I know I did.’

But perhaps a few more details of MR’s presentation:

1.       MR has been recently appointed Director General for the Swedish Migration Agency. He is a civil servant and a lawyer. Before that he was Director of Operations and travelled widely – more later

2.       He understands why Europeans consider migrants as a problem and in particular a problem to Europe but points out at the end of the 19th century many Swedes left for the US and are now greatly revered. Both are looking for a better life.

3.       The EU provides for free migration of its citizens and Sweden has accepted this even though many can be classed as Economic Migrants. However Asylum seeks from Syria and Afghanistan are less welcome and have very little chance of staying in Sweden.

4.       Nevertheless the law is that Sweden is formally obliged to accept all seekers that comes to it

5.       It takes 5 years of residency to become a Swedish citizen – there are exceptions, IT experts. Footballers and their new Queen

6.       I got the impression that priority is given to migrants with families already in Sweden and for unaccompanied migrations. This is leading a problem as to how old a migrant is, with various schemes being considered.

7.       Sweden now budgets for £6 billion a year for Migration yet only £5 billion for defence. MR admits that Swedish citizens are not happy.

8.       Immigration is only a start; migrations need to integrate and this takes longer with migrants naturally congregating in the own country groups and failing to learn the language – MR draws an analogy with Brits in Spain.

9.       MR points out that three agencies are linked: Migration > Work > Social. The key skills are Knowledge, Empathy, Intelligence.

10.   It is the Parliament that makes the laws; the agencies’ job is to implement them.

11.   But for MR the key question is ‘How many Immigrants can Sweden accept’ and this is not easy

12.   It is the Municipalities role to say how many migrants they are prepared to accept.     Municipalities vary in size from 4,000 up to city centres, Stockholm is one. Taxes are raised by municipalities and its costs around £165 pd to support a migrant

13.   At its peak in November 2015 Sweden was receiving 10,000 immigrants a week and it just couldn’t cope. MR said that he organised 24 buses ranging out across Sweden; the 4 heading north with the drivers given instructions to go slow and with no firm destination on departure.

14.   However since then Sweden has publicised that it has to reduce its migrant intake and numbers have dropped off significantly – in contrast to Germany where numbers continued to increase.

15.   There is a formal appeal procedure for a migrant faced when faced with expulsion, with ultimate appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

16.   However Sweden has for a long time recognised the value of establishing Resettlement Camps throughout the counties adjacent to where the major sources of migrants are coming from.

17.   In a heart rending example MR travelled to a Swedish Resettlement camp in Uganda boring on the Democratic Republic of Congo. Families were tented and had 4 sq yds to live in, surviving on a cup of maze a week; they were without hope. MR was allowed to take 200 migrants back to Sweden. And as he poignantly said, 200 and no more even though a mother and baby pleaded with him to be included above the 200 limit.

One of MR’s most memorable statements he made in his talk was ‘you can say Yes but at some point you have to say No’.

18.   Other points

a.       One lady who has spent time in Sweden complained that since bulk migration she feels unsafe surrounded by unemployed teenage migrants

b.      There are indirect benefits to Sweden. Its population is aging and migrants are younger and help with that distribution

c.       Japan doesn’t accept migrants and have turned to robots.

 
 
 

November 11, 2016

Something’s rotten in the State of Denmark

The first impression of St Petersburg is that the city is so like any city in the West.  So many shops with Western Brand names.

The dominance of the consumer society even in ‘Communist’ Russia.

Leaving St Petersburg is even worst – just like departing Edinburgh Airport – the same maze of booze and perfume shops.

Western consumerism has even taken over Lenin’s Russia; he would have turned in his grave.

So how has this anything to do with the Trump disaster; not that I expect that Trump can in anyway live up to his despicable rhetoric? And he looks to be changing already

Consumerism is ‘The opium of the people’: it has failed in the US as it has failed in the North of England: there just isn’t any money to spend due to so many things; lack of jobs, austerity ; and those who used to, but no longer have the money, they are the ones, who are now rejecting liberal democracy.

The days of deregulation have blown the lid off so many things.

So what can we do about it and do about it we must, not for us but for our children.

Well I am coming round to Scottish Independence – I did vote for it in the Referendum but only in a half-hearted way.

Now it’s a must.

Scotland has at least set out a Future in the White Book (thought of course it is OTT) and Scotland needs to implement it.

Neither Brexit, Corbyn and Hillary have anything to say about the future: and of course Hilary failed because of it.  Trump unfortunately did have something to say and it was nasty but it appealed to the ones that had but not now.

As a start, what Scotland requires is political education in the schools.

I pick up something that came over in a recent David Hume lecture on the Big Bang

‘HB (Hamish Buchan) related to the Stewart Ivory scheme for providing education on Finance to sixth forms but this can only go so far as it is not yet an examinable subject and the scheme can only provide 100 mins per school’

Every school child and I mean every school child needs to know about democracy and what is politics, what is capitalism and what Marx had to say about it.

Religion is dead and rightly; but Consumerism is not its replacement with its basis of individualism.

There has to be something better and that is Community – which after all, was what yesterdays’ event on Scotland’s Towns Conference in Kirkcaldy was all about.

I came to politics far too late but the kids of today must be taught, so that they can take a rational and where necessary a passionate view when the time comes to act ie vote.

David Hume is reputed to have stated :

Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.

But of course Hume was a reasonable man.

BTW Kirkcaldy has a great Art Gallery including the Colourists and at present paintings and drawings by Kate Downie of the three Forth Bridges

And then again Martin Kettle’s article in yesterdays Guardian is a good read

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-voters-liberal-order

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