Sunday, 11 September 2016

Nottingham Green Festival 2016

BFTF recently had a very nice time at the Nottingham Green Festival 2016, an event which seemed to be bigger and better that the 2015 Festival. Here are some pictures and stuff...


Dr Bike, from not-for-profit Nottingham Bikeworks, were present and offering free bike checks. BFTF took advantage of this and was told that the BFTF bike was in good nick apart from the chain, which was worn and needed replacing (and was what was causing BFTF's gears to slip occasionally).

Dr Bike

Incidentally, some very nice signs had been installed around the Arboretum, provding information on the history of the park.

Informative Signs at the Arboretum

Lots of food options with most (if not all) being vegan. BFTF bought some very nice vegan cakes but could easily have been persuaded to part with some cash at the following two food locations.

Nice looking doughnuts at Vegan Junk

The Veggie Catering Campaign

Nice stall from Nottingham Hackspace, who were demonstrating how rope can be made, amongst other things...


Nice things at Hackspace

A Lemonade Shisha thing at Hackspace

The three hooks are spinning at about 3prm

At the other end, gently tapping the rope to settle the twist

End result is rope like this!

The "Bee Cause" campaign, a Friends of the Earth project also being championed locally. The group comments that :

"The main reasons for decline of bees are: habitat loss, farming practices, pesticides, loss of flower-rich hay meadows, hedge removal (hedges attract small mammals whose burrows can be used by bumblebees), unsympathetic management of verges and green areas. Gardens are the best remaining habitat (if pesticide free)."

They have also engaged with the Nottingham City Council (in 2012), and received a positive response showing the many ways the council is making its parks and green spaces more bee friendy.

The chap on the stall explained to BFTF that it would be helpful to bees if gardens etc had flowers in them all year round (as far as possible) - and gave a list of suitable plants (see here)

Nottingham FOE were also campaigning on the issue of air quality, pointing out that Nottingham (and other areas) were still not meeting air quality standards that they should have reached in 2010, and that poor air quality kills thousands of people a year in the UK. The key measure required to reduce air pollution is to implement a "Clean Air Zone" by restricting or charging heavily polluting vehicles (e.g. trucks) from the city centre (for example).
Air pollution in Nottingham

Bee Cause 

Interesting stuff at the Frack Free Notts stall. Their literature claimed to bust a number of fracking myths, not least the one that the UK is dependent on Russian gas supplies (it isn't). An it was interesting to see how a typcial fracking field would look when superimposed on some English countryside.

In terms of the local situation, Frack Free Notts will be challenging IGAS Energy's planning application to explore for shale gas in the north of Nottinghamshire at Mission Springs in Bassetlaw. In particular they are asking people to turn up at County Hall at 9am on Wednesday 5th October to urge the planning committee to reject the planning application.

IGAS has a website for this project which includes notes from meetings of a community liason group.

Frack Free Notts

Mission Decision - Wed 5th Oct

What a Fracking site looks like

At AVID (Association of Visitors to Immigration Detainees), BFTF learnt how they provide support, training and information to volunteer befrienders, and to help visitors around the country learn from each other. And also about the Morton Hall Detainee Visitor Support Group

Morton Hall Detainee Visitor Group

The "Keep Our NHS Public" stall were unsure how to respond when asked about ensuring that Nottingham City CCG does not implement polices that discriminate against those who smoke or who are obese (except in cases of clinical need). Eventually they said BFTF should email Peter Homa, chief executive of the NUH. BFTF has done that via the NUH contact page

Keep Our NHS Public

Both Five Leaves and ExLibris booksellers were present, with the inevitable result that BFTF bought a book...

Seriously, it was rather busy!

BFTF also visited a number of other stalls, but this post is probably long enough already, so if you would like to get the full experience, make sure you visit the Nottingham Green Festival in 2017.

The weather was kind.

They walk among us!

Stooge, House Muslim, Puppet, Coconut, Uncle Tom etc

BFTF does not think it is right to use words like "stooge", "house muslim", "coconut", "puppet", "uncle Tom" etc about Muslims who are active in politics and civil society.

They are ad-hominem attacks that use innuendo to blacken someones name without bringing any specifics to the table.

They also discourage people in the BME community from stepping forward for roles in civil society as politics and dialogue necessarily involve compromise. And it is easy to hurl accusations of being a "stooge" at any such compromise.

But most of all, words like "stooge" are racist - because they ARE used against BME people and NOT against non-BME people EVEN WHEN BOTH ARE BEHAVING THE SAME WAY.

Paper at Cartamundi

BFTF was thinking about buying a couple of decks of "Ace Trumps" after seeing them on the shelves of the toy section...

...but decided to leave them be as was not sure the card used was from a sustainable source.

Bit worried Cartamundi are cool with unsustainable deforestation

The Cartamundi website has an environment section but only says this :

"8. Environmental Impact - Cartamundi maintains a commitment to sound environmental programs and practices and encourages the reduction and recycling of waste. Facilities must comply with all applicable laws relating to the environment and dispose of toxic materials in a controlled and safe manner. To that end, Cartamundi seeks to conduct business with Facilities who are equally dedicated to pursuing continuous efforts to improve the compatibility of its operations with the environment."

This is disturbing, as paper from forests that are unsustainably logged contributes very significantly to climate change, deforestation and loss of ecosystems around the world - and conversely, the use of sustainable sources, such as recycled paper or trees logged under forest management schemes such as those of the FSC.

Sent some messages :

Via :

"Was going to buy two packs of AceTrumps, but didn't because could not see any evidence that card used pulp from a sustainable source (e.g. FSC or recycled). So I'm presuming that card in your products is from unsustainably (possibly illegally) logged forests, and is contributing to the climate change, deforestation and loss of habitats that that unsustainable and illegal logging causes. Nor can I see any mention of sustainable paper sourcing in your environmental policy."

Via :

"....That Tesco is quite happy to stock such products does not give me a warm feeling. Would suggest you contact Cartamundi and ask them where their card comes from. "

Update 12th Sep 2016
Impressed with the response from Cartamundi!

They bounced back certification for ISO9001, ISO14001 and FSC - via Twitter, a blog response and an email!

Cartamundi ISO9001 and 14001 certification

Cartamundi FSC certification

Cartamundi environmental standard

So, happy ending?

Well, yes, and no...

Great to see that Cartamundi has FSC certification. BFTF would not hesitate to buy those Ace Trumps (or other Cartamundi products) if seeing them in the store tomorrow.

And No...
Bit disturbed that Cartamundi think that ISO9001 or ISO14001 (an "environmental management" quality standard) provide any evidence that they use sustainably sourced card. So far as BFTF can tell all these standards do is ensure that the company has clear documented procedures and that it follows them. The policy itself could be very unsustainable indeed - but at least it would be written down!

Certainly neither of these standards mandate the use of FSC or recycled paper, or the use of paper that meets any equivalent environmental standard. For a company to suggest that possesion of these standards in any way guarantees the sustainability of the paper they use is the kind of greenwwash that makes BFTF very suspicious of a company.

Also, BFTF does not keep a mental list of which companies have good paper policies, so in six months time if BFTF sees the same product in a store, it is entirely possible that BFTF will have forgotton this episode and will send another email to Cartamundi, asking them exactly the same questions!

Even if BFTF does remember the current conversation, how would BFTF know, in a years time, that Cartamundi still has the same policy?

So, please Cartamundi, if you're using FSC card, put a note about it on the box!

Related Content
How BFTF reacts to product packaging messages
Sustainably sourced Christmas cards
Challenging Fire Angel on sustainability
Sustainable paper at a local mosque
Hey Jamie! Where's the sustainable packaging?
FSC in some toys at Tesco Sustainable paper at Orion Books
Tesco, Sainsbury's and Oxford notepads
FSC at Random House

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Walking / Cycling Route Art

Seen a lot of posts on Facebook etc recently from people who have had a cycle ride and are showing their route, mileage, speed etc.

BFTF wonders whether it might be possible to have a bit of fun with the "route" part....

So below are some routes that BFTF has walked or cycled and which are perhaps a bit more interesting than the usual run of the mill maps posted..


Sep 2016 - Mr Messy.

Mr Messy!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Theresa May Administration

A post to hold stuff related to the current Theresa May administration.

A campaign email sent out by Theresa May on her election as Prime Minister, together with BFTF's response (slightly edited)...

I have just been to Buckingham Palace, where Her Majesty the Queen has asked me to form a new Government. And I accepted. In David Cameron, I follow in the footsteps of a great, modern Prime Minister. Under David's leadership, the Government stabilised the economy, reduced the budget deficit, and helped more people into work than ever before. But David's true legacy is not about the economy, but about social justice.

From the introduction of same-sex marriage to taking people on low wages out of income tax altogether, David Cameron has led a One Nation Government, and it is in that spirit that I also plan to lead. Because not everybody knows this, but the full title of my party is the Conservative and Unionist Party. And that word 'Unionist' is very important to me. It means we believe in the Union - the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

But it means something else that is just as important. It means we believe in a union, not just between the nations of the United Kingdom, but between all of our citizens. Every one of us, whoever we are, and wherever we're from. That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you're born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.

If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white. If you’re a white, working-class boy, you are less likely than anybody else in Britain to go to university. If you’re at a state school, you’re less likely to reach the top professions than if you are educated privately. If you’re a woman, you will earn less than a man. If you suffer from mental health problems, there's not enough help to hand. If you're young, you will find it harder than ever before to own your own home.

But the mission to make Britain a country that works for everyone means more than fighting these injustices. If you're from an ordinary, working-class family, life is much harder than many people in Westminster realise. You have a job but you don't always have job security. You have your own home, but you worry about paying the mortgage. You can just about manage, but you worry about the cost of living and getting your kids into a good school.

If you're one of those families, if you're just managing, I want to address you directly. I know you're working around the clock, I know you're doing your best, and I know that sometimes life can be a struggle. The Government I lead will be driven not by the interests of the privileged few, but by yours. We will do everything we can to give you more control over your lives. When we take the big calls, we'll think not of the powerful but you. When we pass new laws, we'll listen not to the mighty but to you. When it comes to taxes, we'll prioritise not the wealthy but you. When it comes to opportunity, we won't entrench the advantages of the fortunate few. We will do everything we can to help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you.

We are living through an important moment in our country's history. Following the referendum, we face a time of great national change. And I know, because we're Great Britain, that we will rise to the challenge. As we leave the European Union, we will forge a bold, new, positive role for ourselves in the world. And we will make Britain a country that works not for a privileged few but for every one of us.

That will be the mission of the Government I lead, and together we will build a better Britain.

Thank you,

Theresa May

Prime Minister

Dear Theresa May

I received the message in the email below from you back in July.

It resonates very deeply with me. It is what I want to hear. You are proposing actions that will make this country a better place.

But, at the same time, I know the following facts :

i) University fees, some of the highest in the developed world, are imposing a crippling burden on young people as they try to make their way in the world, while historically low levels of house building mean prices are high and they will struggle to buy their own homes.

ii) As we speak, this government is ripping the heart out of the NHS by trying to stretch 5 days of elective care into 7 days without extra funding, indeed while imposing BILLIONS in cuts, sorry, "efficiency savings"

iii) Day after day, I read of instances where vulnerable people with physical or mental illness are subjected to heartless and grossly unfair benefit sanctions.

These are not the actions of a government that cares about the common man or woman.

These are the actions of a government that is trying to become a British version of the Tea Party.

...I will have no faith in you while you are treating our young people, our NHS and our most vulnerable in this way.

Yours, very disappointed

Ash Choudry

Monday, 29 August 2016

Aye2Aye at Fort Willliam

BFTF rather liked this community organising hub called "Aye2Aye" located by the foot of Ben Nevis at Fort William in the Scottish Highlands.

Aye2Aye state that "Aye2Aye is a non partisan grassroots, voluntary organisation. Our purpose is the pursuit and promotion of the case for Scotland becoming an independent country."

Aye2Aye in Fort William, Scotland

Interesting to read a poster in the window which used the example of Catalonia to give examples of the pros and cons to independence.

Pros and Cons to Calatonian Independence

Another poster compared the number of voters in Scotland with the number of voters on Englands South East coast.

The question some Scots are asking

Also impressed by the work the volunteers there have done, such as this effort to help refugees.

See also their funding page.

A visit to the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh

BFTF recently visited Edinburgh and, almost by chance, took the opportunity while there to visit the National Gallery. It proved to be a good decision as there were some beautiful artworks there. Definitely a place to visit if you are in that great city. You can read more about their collections here.

Below are a few of the paintings that particularly caught BFTF’s attention, together with the thoughts and questions they provoked in BFTF’s mind…

Niagra Falls from the American Side (Frederic Edwin Church, 1867)

Niagra Falls from the American Side

Like all the paintings shown in this post, this was painted In an age when there was no video or cinema, and photography was monochrome and in it’s infancy – so paintings and prints were perhaps the only way people could get a feel for how far off places looked.

Niagra Falls detail.
Expect they got a bit muddy getting to this observation point

Intrigued by the couple in the small observation lookout. Who are they? Did they get their clothes dirty getting to the observation point?

Poplars on the Epte (Monet, 1891)
Polpars on the Etbe, Monet
A nice painting but, on reflection, only really took a picture of it because it was by the famous Monet. (more info here)

Poplars on the Edbe detail

A detail showing the paint strokes.

Still life of flowers in a sculpted vase (Jan van Huysum, c.1718)
Still Life

An incredibly detailed painting, undertaken in oils on a copper base. Can’t help but be impressed by the technical expertise required to paint this. One wonders how, without todays speedy transport links, it was possible to get all those flowers in one place before the blooms had faded.

Still Life detail

A close up of one of two of the flowers only makes it look even more awesome!

Olive Trees (Vincent van Gogh, 1889)
Olivers, van Gogh

Certainly an arresting painting.(more info here).

Oliviers Detail - looks like Vinny was in a bit of a hurry!

Paintstrokes really interesting to look at, one wonders how van Gogh choose the colours, what his palette looked like, how he chose his colours, whether he ever ran out of a colour(and what he did then)?

The Riva degi Schiavoni (Venice) Antonio Canaletto, c.1745
The Riva degi Schiavoni (Venice)

What a detailed painting! One can almost imagine stepping into it and talking to the characters on the waterfront. The building on the left is the Doge’s Palace, the local seat of power, which is now a museum, and across the Bridge of Sigh’s can be seen the Venice prison, which looks rather plush on the outside, although the interior is no doubt very different.

The Riva degi Schiavoni (Venice) detail.
"You sir, are a cad and a bounder!"

Really like the detail and care taken over portraying the people in the scene. Wonder what they are talking about.

A view of Verona with the Ponte delle Navi (Bernardo Bellotto,1746/7)
A View of Verona by Bernardo Bellotto

Bellotto was a nephew and student of Canelletto, and it rather shows in his style of painting.

A View of Verona by Bernardo Bellotto detail.
Mafia involvement resulted in yet another overdesigned footbridge...

This painting brings out the engineer in BFTF ! How was the bridge and ramp made? How long did it take? How many people? More info here

Art Cabinet with Anthony van Dyck’s ‘Mystic Marriage of St Catherine’, (Willem (Guillam) van Haech, 1630)
Art Cabinet, Willem van Haech

There is an awful lot going on in this painting. Apparently Most of the artworks depicted in the painting can be identified, though the collection as a whole is an imaginary one.

BFTF couldn't remember the name of this painting and was having trouble identifying it online, so called the Gallery. A VNL (very nice lady) instantly identifed if from my garbled description and advised the name of the painting and the artist. Good stuff, Scottish National Gallery!

Art Cabinet detail.

Wonder what the Moor and the Italian are discussing regarding the globe, and noting the navigational instruments casually laid on the floor.

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