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Hi from the frozen north . . . – Mission Update!

As I start to write this I can’t help but be reminded of the high hopes we had but a matter of weeks ago regarding our intended Ice Age Project, and how much closer we all now feel to those who have struggled to survive in such inhospitable conditions be they Human, Plant or Animal.

Unlike many of our fellow Roots & Shoots associates our activities are not confined to term time and as illness had delayed the start of our Ice Age Project we were all keen to get stuck in over the holiday period. Unfortunately, no doubt like many others, we were forced to set our plans aside in order to actually adapt our lives to living in what has felt like our own mini “Ice Age”.

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And what a learning curve it has proven to be, because being personally affected by severe weather conditions, has given us all life experiences which books cannot truly convey. Suddenly we were not discussing other people or places but us and how we were going to cope.

The intensity of wondering whether you have enough fuel for heating or food to eat and medication brings a degree of realism and focus to those who find certain concepts difficult to appreciate. The resulting conversations were at times funny and lacking in viability but on occasion very perceptive; and whilst none really developed into a frank discussion between the children about any one topic they set out trains of thought which we would perhaps not have touched upon.

Disability brings its own limitations and much has been said about the safety of those who find mobility problematic at the best of times. We have explored alternative methods of transportation and modern communication, and the issue of fuel, habitat and the lack of social opportunities have all led to comparisons between us and those for whom these conditions would be normal.

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The scenery around us has been breath taking and it is easy to forget just how harsh an environment it is proving to be for our local wildlife population. Therefore whilst I am not certain that we match the educational value of the phenomenal work being carried out in schools by our Roots & Shoots associates, the value of the work carried out by the children in caring for our local bird population has become a simple mater of life or death.

We are all faced with a crisis of enormous consequence as wildlife across the country has been decimated by the severity and duration of the weather, and the regular topping up of feeding stations has become essential in maintaining the population of both native and migratory birds. The children have watched with great interest the measures being taken by professional bodies to try and ensure the survival of as many animals as possible and as a consequence have been instrumental in maintaining our own feeding areas.

And whilst they are not always able to actually carry out the work required they have become tireless vocal warriors in defence of the unexpected explosion of birds now dependent on our care.

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One of the most surprising things for us has been the lack of sea birds in the garden considering our extremely close proximity to the shore and this observation resulted in the decision to try and record the identity of the visitors we were receiving. We now have a barrage of visual aids scanning the gardens and one lucky individual(!) has had the joy of attempting to photograph as many as possible.

Another of our members has managed to get out and about with her trusty camera and has reported back to the group with news of icicles, deep snow and narrow boats frozen in locks! Some of her photographs will hopefully be added to this submission in the next week or so.

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Likewise as the thaw sets in we will start to fulfil our intended Ice Age Activities, only this time we will no doubt do so with a far greater appreciation of the difficulties faced, and again it is hoped these will be uploaded as they are completed.

In the meantime we hope you enjoy viewing the images of life here in the (very rarely) frozen costal northern regions of Britain.

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