A photo essay update on my cat Lyra

You might remember that over a year ago we got a rescue cat. We named her Lyra and she has been living with us and thriving all this time. She’s a hunter – all summer as had voles, shrews, mice, birds – and she’s very affectionate and playful still. Here are a few photos to update you on how she’s been doing! Bit of an odd blog post but there you go.

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Wildlife focus: the mole

Hello nature fans!

I’m starting a new blog series all about wildlife, focusing on a particular species each time in depth. In general, I’ll probably talk about the features of the species, the role it fulfills within its ecosystem, the folklore surrounding it, and species idiosyncrasies, including a few interesting facts. I’m starting with the humble mole.

The Mole

A nocturnal creature that is practically blind, it moves awkwardly above ground and expertly tunnels below. This mammal digs and tunnels its way through the soil, leaving those familiar molehills dotted about the landscape. They have sharp claws, soft velvety fur and eat earthworms and, surprisingly, nuts.

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How to spot a mole

The Norfolk Wildlife Trust gives this helpful advice on how to identify moles:

The European mole is a small mammal with a body length of between 10-14cm, weighing between 75-120g. They have a cylindrical body covered with dense black fur, a pointed snout, short tail and spade like forelegs with long sharp claws which they use for digging tunnels.

If you manage to get really close to a mole you might be able to notice that they have an extra thumb on their forepaws, a feature that evolution has decided is helpful for moles, meaning that they basically have two thumbs. You can find moles all over the UK and they seem to be doing fine, despite some gardeners and landowners viewing them as pests.

Diet

Moles primarily eat earthworms, which they collect underground in specially built ‘mole runs’ that are essentially a series of tunnels – the mole can sense when a worm falls into the channel and quickly locates and eats it. They can even store earthworms in their larders to eat later as their saliva contains a toxin that paralyses the worm.

Breeding

Moles breed between February and May. Males woo females by wandering into unknown territory and letting off high-pitched squeals. If a match is successful, the young are born between March and April and each brood generally contains 3-5 youngsters, who depart the nest after about 6 weeks.

Random Facts

  1. Moles can dig 20 yards of tunnels each day.
  2. A mole can dig through 14m in 1 hour
  3. Males are called ‘boars’, females ‘sows’, and a group of moles is a ‘labour’.
  4. They have a complex mental map of their undergound tunnels.
  5. The texture of fur allows it to lie in any direction so it can easily reverse in a tunnel.
  6. They have no external ears.

The Burrow by Kafka

Franz Kafka wrote an exceptional story about a mole. It was unfinished and published posthumously, like most of his work, and it’s the most strikingly strange idea: essentially a monologue by a mole, who adores his carefully constructed underground palace of tunnels and feels an ever-growing threat of ‘the beast’ who could shatter it at any moment. Read into that what you will. Human irrationality and anxiety of an inevitable yet unidentifiable destroyer (i.e. death)? If you’re interested, you can buy it here.

Here are a few photos of a mole I managed to take at Strumpshaw in Norfolk in the summer. I just happened to see one above ground – a very rare treat. 

Tangible Stationery: a review

Hi guys!

Today I’ll be reviewing a couple of notebooks from a lovely stationery company called Tangible Stationery. They create beautiful stationery for everyday use, with all sorts of different personalisation possibilities.

You may be wondering what stationery has to do with a nature/green lifestyle blog – well, I miss pen & paper. Everything I’ve written so far for this blog has been using a keyboard; I’ve never hand written any of it. Given that I spend all day at work staring at a computer screen, it is a little upsetting to find myself using my evenings and weekends to write my blog digitally.

I realised I don’t have to do that – I can go old school! So I’m using a couple of fancy new notebooks to review* for this blog and to re-inspire me to use pen and paper again. I miss the physical experience of writing; holding a pen between my hands, opening a notebook and thumbing through to where I last got to, pausing over ivory pages, pen in lips, thinking, planning, writing.

I’ve chosen two notebooks from Tangible Stationery, one from each of their main brands.

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Forbes Classic Notebook Lines F20-02

The essentials:

– 240 ivory pages
– Lined paper
– Loop for pen
– Elastic closure
– Ribbon marker
– Storage pocket
– A5 size

This notebook has a classic, traditional feel, with a hard cover and beautiful paper with subtle lines. It has a section in the top right hand corner to put the date on each page, which is a really cute detail and makes it ideal as a journal. A really awesome feature of this notebook is that it can be embossed – I requested the name of my blog, This Veggie Life, embossed on the cover, and I’m so pleased with how it came out! There are other options as well to have your chosen word or name or phrase on the cover in red, silver or gold foil.

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The Forbes notebook passes all the necessary stationery nerd tests: quality paper that doesn’t allow ghosting (nerd term for how the pen shows through on the next page); classy cover, all essential features; and, finally, a cute ‘how to find my owner if I’m lost’ section at the front.

I’m a sucker for a hard leather-effect cover and ribbon to keep my place – it even comes with a pen loop, so it’s easy to transport and use as an everyday notebook to scribble down your thoughts and observations.

It’s reminiscent of travel writing – I can just imagine sitting in a hotel lobby in the 1930’s in Constantinople, sipping coffee, smoking a cigarette, and writing my adventures in my travel journal. This is a notebook that has an enduring appeal.

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Matilda Myers Notebook MY20-05

The essentials:

– Rose gold foiling
– Original design by Matilda Myres
– 192 ivory pages
– Round elastic closure
– Lined paper

Again, this notebook has quality paper with subtle lines and no ghosting when writing; it has an elastic ribbon to hold it closed, a section on each page to write the page number, and a page for contact details at the front. This notebook has a very artistic feel and I think it would be great for writing stories or planning a creative project. Alternatively, it’s a great gift.

This notebook is all about the snazzy cover – I love the geometric shapes and the pastel blue colours, and I love how satisfying it is to touch the indented rose gold foiling. Honestly, it’s quite soothing.

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Now that I have two new beautiful notebooks for my collection, I feel I can write with a pen in my hands again, so I’m planning many more visits to coffee shops to brainstorm ideas for my blog and to use the free WiFi.

So enough of the screen headaches. Here’s to the authentic tangible experience of physical writing.

* I received the products to review as gifts from the company; my views are always my own.

Trump’s threat to tear up the Paris agreement could help to make it law

Climate change denying president-elect (said with the contempt it deserves) Donald Trump has reiterated his campaign threat to tear up the Paris agreement signed less than a year that committed all nations to limit the global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees.

Trump believes (or claims to – who really knows what’s going on beneath the wig?) that climate change is a Communist conspiracy invented by the Chinese to bring down American capitalism. It’s not.

Last year, the UNFCCC managed to sign up all 195 nations of the ailing planet to a voluntary agreement to limit the global temperature increase and mitigate climate change; it’s key pledge is to:

Hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change

This is the world’s first comprehensive climate agreement and is absolutely essential in reducing the impact of climate change before it is too late. Within a year, 111 of the 195 countries have ratified that deal, making it official. It is a monumental achievement that both the US and China, which together account for over 40% of global emissions, actually agreed to do this, and Trump has promised to retract that commitment.

It’s not clear whether Trump will be “allowed” to back out of it; however, the actual agreement is voluntary, and consists of promises to change behaviour, and crucially there is no fiscal punishment for backtracking or failing to keep those promises.

It’s tempting to deny climate change – I was never very clear about the evidence myself because apparently the climate has changed a lot throughout the history of the planet. But it’s obvious to me that humans are destroying the earth – we’ve been cutting down those rainforests for decades with no thought or care about the wildlife housed within them, and polluting the oceans with our discarded plastic. So it makes perfect sense that there would be some environment consequence of this.

There’s not much we can do on an individual level, apart from recycle the little we can, limit our waste and consumption where possible, and walk the distances we can manage rather than driving. But what’s the point of me carefully cleaning out yoghurt pots when China and America keep on coughing up coal?

This song ‘4 degrees‘ by Anohni is an ironic anthem for our doomed planet and a challenging reminder that we’re all part of the problem.

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If climate change deniers don’t give a damn about the environment, maybe they will consider the health impacts on people demonstrated in this graph.

 

 

Cheeky Blogging Award

Sorry I haven’t written anything for an entire month – I’ve moved house and been without internet.

I’m pretty chuffed to have been nominated for the Leibster Award! And I’m doubly flattered that the nomination came from a blogger I have a lot of respect for. So thanks, My Veggie Life, for the chance to take part in this.

To my nominees: please display the award, thank the nominee, nominate 10 more bloggers with 10 more questions.

If you could give your younger self some advice what would it be?

Stop eating meat sooner. There’s no need to live with that daily guilt.

What/who inspires you?

‘Green Philosophers’; those published, those blogging, and those who just live an ethical lifestyle.

What is the best day of your life?

It might possible be the day I went to the Harry Potter Tour…. Yeah, it might be that. :/

What are you most passionate about?

Wildlife and books.

What is the number one thing you wish all people would understand?

That there isn’t a good enough excuse to keep eating meat.

What makes you happy?

Reading, walking in the countryside, listening to BBC 6Music.

What makes you sad?

Goodbyes.

What’s your favorite food?

I’m really more into pudding….

What is the best way to get your beliefs across to people who seem resistant?

Logic? Reason? Nah, it’s celebrity endorsement.

How do you hope to make the world a better place before you die?

Doing as little harm as I possibly can.

Here are my nominees, in no particular order. I think you’re all great writers, and I enjoy reading your blogs.

Secular Vegan

Animal Blawg

Hold the Eggplant 

Leanne Eats Plants

Absofckingcrueltyfree

Stacie M Stark

greenmindvegheart

Armory of the Revolution 

Why? Because Science

Live Kind. Eat Kind. 

Here are your questions.

How do you keep motivated to blog?

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, what would you choose and why?

Why do you blog?

What’s your favourite blogging snack?

What do you want to be when you grow up? ;)

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve travelled to and why did you enjoy it?

What’s your favourite book?

How would you describe yourself?

What do you identify as politically?

Would we get on well in real life? 

Have fun!