Monday 26 December 2016

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal 2016

Coffee and hot fruit punch
were served in the
large meeting room

when we arrived 

Settle Community Christmas Day Meal took place in style again in 2016.
( There will be a similar meal and day on 2017 - book now!) 

A big thank you to:-

1. The guests who came - without you it would not take place! 

I was pleased that R. was able to come again and join in the singing - now 99! and also others from Hellifield and some of the regulars from Settle, Limestone View, Townhead and elsewhere.

2. The volunteer helpers buyers, - drivers, servers, washers uppers, piano player, table decorations provider, sprout and potato peelers....

and especially the chief cooks: Edith and John Diggles

3. Three local firms who gave us discounts: - Courtyard Cheese, (cheese) Naked Man Cafe (Christmas Cake) and Drake and Macefield (turkey), Thank you. the cheese, cake and turkey were all  delicious.

4. The people of St John's Church for maintaining and letting us use their premises.

5. Other people in Settle who wished us well!

After coffee/hot punch we went into the chapel and sang carols for our meal!

Rev Stephen Dawson MCd, Joy played the piano.

This year we got the serving right - super efficient and so the meals were tasty AND hot.

Single people came, some people came who had lost partners or relations, and others came in groups bringing visiting relations with them. It was good being all family together.

After lunch we sat in a circle in the hall and played pass the parcel. Joseph and Darren held the buckets of parcels - while we actually passed soft toys. I was able to play first lines of a variety of folk songs and carols on my accordion

Then we had "party pieces" - people had brought some Christmas Poems, and readings about misfit presents and a host of other topics. One lady sang a rainbow song, beautifully, and another recited "Ernie, the fasted milkman in the west"

Then it was tea time. Cake, cheese, sausage rolls, grapes, clementines, stollen, mince pies..

And finally home. People could admire the decorations at the church entrance as they left.. through the rain.

Enjoy the rest of the Christmas Break 

and Happy New Year everyone!

Sunday 11 December 2016

Happy Christmas 2016

To you all -
to friends and to visitors from round the world to to this website:- 
May you have a Happy Christmas
and Best Wishes for the New Year.

Here are  pictures from Settle and Skipton  in the Yorkshire Dales and the Settle - Carlisle Railway.

All the best with choosing your New Year Resolutions 
(How about:  Learning about some aspect of wildlife e.g. lichens? Going for a walk outside each day? Listening to people more carefully? Saying "Thank You" to other people more often?)

 I wish you all Peace on Earth


10 December 2016 - Apologies for jumpy filming - but meaningful words

10 December 2016 - This one makes a nice story watching it.

Skipton in the evening (after Speakers Club)

Skipton in the evening when all the market stall have gone.

 Settle Voices at Settle Station on 10 Dec

Enjoyed the Christmas Food at Settle Station 10 Dec

Sunday 13 November 2016

Dales Area Speech Competition at Addingham

The ASC Yorkshire Dales Area Speech and Evaluation contest was held at Addingham Memorial Hall and organised by Wharfedale Speakers Club on Saturday 12 November. I was to represent Craven Speakers Club in the Speech Contest.

I spent the morning on Ilkely Moor on a Bryophytes trip with people from Wharfedale Nats, North West Naturalists and the YNU (Yorkshire Naturalists Union), but left them just before lunch, (clutching specimens of Sphagnum russowii and Discelium nudum)   to attend the speech contest.

I gave my speech on "What is the YNU?". It came second.

A highlight of the meeting for me was the speech given by Denise Adlard, as the "Sample Evaluation Speech" - the the evaluation contestants had to evaluate:

Spring, Foam or Gel? -

Who would have guessed that this title would into of a very humorous speech on choosing a bed - and later making us aware that lack of sleep can cause road accidents. Car accidents caused by lack of sleep cause (per injury) more serious injury and deaths than drugs and alcohol   21-27 Nov 
Five clubs took part. In the Evaluation Competition, five people had to give a mini-speech analysing Denise’s speech, highlighting good points and techniques and offering practical advice with examples on how the speech could be improved.
The winner was Martin Bishop of Bradford Speakers Club.

 In the speech competition the audience were treated to a range of subjects - ranging from the history of umbrellas to the three main types of comedy: from the Activities of the Yorkshire Naturalists Union to How to show more empathy. Chris Birch gave a moving talk “Can you hear me?” which included  remembering the people who lost their lives during past wars. Tracy Wood, again of Bradford Speakers Club won with her “The Power of Empathy” Speech. Tracy and Martin will now compete in the District Competition to be held near Wetherby in March.

The entrants in the Speech competition receive their certificates from Lindsay Dutch (left). Tracy (centre) is the winner. thanks to Tony Morris for the pictures

The entrants in the Evaluation competition receive their certificates from Lindsay Dutch (left). Martin (second from left) is the winner

Discelium nudum - a good find in the morning on clay slippage banks beside stream (1mm graph paper behind)
No wonder people get the word "Naturalists" mixed up with Naturists...

Sunday 30 October 2016

Women, Leadership and Entrepreneurship; the Speakers Clubs Website and Dinner

What has a national training day at the Association of Speakers Clubs and the Speakers Club President's Dinner got to do with saving the rainforest?

One of the workshops
1. If I learn from it and become more efficient I can achieve more for the Rainforest Fund
2. If you learn from my notes below, especially the tips here, perhaps the same can apply in your efforts in wildlife conservation.

The meeting was held at Samlesbury Hotel, Preston, which was a brilliant location. Near the intersection of the A59 and the M6.

1. The 1st training workshop, by Bernie Morgan of Thanet Speakers Club was "Women into Leadership and Entrepreneurship " 

2. The 2nd workshop was on the Association of Speakers Clubs new website

Suggestions were given on how to improve it. and a plea made to keep individual speakers clubs up to date.

1. Pictures

Bernie (centre) leads the workshop, and has invited one of the participants (right) to speak
At the beginning she had asked everyone to sit at the front.
Well done!!
This makes a good picture having no empty chairs at the front!

Above two pictures: Bernie, the workshop leader (centre) invites participants out (after small group discussion)  to tell us some of their leadership needs and experience.

Neil, the President, thanks Bernie for her workshop

Jackie Mafi and Nigel Thorne announce the launch of the new website:
There is then feedback. One person rightly says she does not like to see empty chairs in a picture.
I assure you, there were lots more people further back.
 The President's Dinner

The lady with her hand raised later helped collect the raffle money. At the beginning of the dinner the lights were  bright enough to take good photos, but below, when the lights were lowered it was harder.

A table just starting on the sticky toffee pudding phase of the meal


Prizes and speeches then followed after the meal.

2. Women into Leadership and Entrepreneurship

At speakers clubs we practice doing evaluations. Here are points I like about the way Bernie's workshop was presented:
  1. Bernie asked people to sit in the front rows.
  2. She had us working in paired discussion almost right at the beginning. This was excellent for breaking the ice and filled in time whilst late comers arrived
  3. More small group discussion, and asking several people to come out and share their experience, worked well.
  4. Bernie wrote down points that people raised during these discussions and talks on a flip chart. Then in her talk she elaborated on these points.
  5. She told some of her personal experience. This made it interesting, gave examples to refer to of points whe was talking about and showed she had expereince to give the talk.
  6. She had good eye contact, posture, smiling face, and thing we learn about in Speakers Club; and she had good knowledge of her subject - So it was an excellent workshop
Points I gained from the workshop:

1. Have a vision and be able to communicate it. Create a vision of what you want to do; and where you want to go.

2. Have to believe in yourself and stand your ground. Be Bloody minded.

3. Get a support group. If one does not exist set it up.  Being a leader can be a lonely position. You can't necessarily discuss your problems with your subordinates or your boss - It is often better to find someone from out side of your job.  We found that one lady had actually done this. (formed a group of leaders with a similar position to her)

4. Dealing with criticism: (sometimes rephrase this as dealing with feedback). Sift through it. People are just angry and venting their spleen. Work out what is valid and what needs dealing with.think "What is the nugget".

5. Ask Questions. Be curious.

6. Tell someone about your idea. People want to help.

7. Don't make assumptions.

8. Time management - suggestions from floor etc: Get up earlier; Do it immediately. set Priorities. It is deeply frustrating the the other person can't make a decision.

9. Be flexible. in the charity sector people are much more willing to be flexible. They thus learn a lot. Bernie said she used to put her hand up and say "Yes I'll do that" so learnt more and became more employable.

10. Negotiation is about timing - think of what the drivers are for the other person.
Write down: who makes the decision?
Who influences him?

11. She asked "What barriers are stopping you taking on the role of being a leader.
i) . One president of a local speakers club said "It is difficult to get other people to commit to doing things. they are volunteers. In a pad job with paid employees it is different".
Ans: Sit down and speak to the person, and tell them why. 
Even when not giving some a contract or sacking a person:
tell them your vision
Tell them your thought process
and then why giving them a contract/ continuing their job does not fit in with this. At least they will understand. And feel better about understanding

12 Another difficutly: ii) lack of self motivation, and difficulty in making decisions.
Suggestions varied from reading "One Minute Manager" to Prioritising, to writing down the problem then leaving it on oneside whilst you do something completely different for a while.
Read a book by Pink "We're all salesmen now"

13. You as an individual - what is your brand?
Leaflets and website have to convey your brand.

... This leads us into the second session. which I may eventually transfer to a new webpost

3. The ASC new website

Jackie Mafi and Nigel Thorne introduced the new website.

There was a lot of feedback about the site, some of which I hope Nigel will find helpful.

It gave them opportunity to explain to us the reasons for aspects of the website.

He showed us the excellent pages of testimonials, and some of the videos of speakers.

He recommended the site (For a usability site, the sentences do have rather a lot of long words per sentence.  I'll try and read it another day.)

One good feature about the website which I learned is that you can flick quickly through the pages of the website by hitting the forward (or backward) arrow on your keyboard. Try it.

It was a helpful session - especially for Nigel  and Jackie to get ideas across to participants.
 - now it is up to us to pass on the news to other members of the clubs.

Jackie and Nigel announce the launch of the new website:

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Tips on debating

Afraid of taking part in a debate? Don't know what the procedure is? Worried you won't be able to think of replies, and give a summary?

That was me last week. 

But now after the workshop at Skipton at Craven Speakers Club on Mon 24 October, led by Anne Todd of Halifax and Huddersfield Speakers Club, I feel really enthusiastic. 

Second speaker proposing the motion at our evening

I can see that
  1. there is a pattern, rules and procedures - 
  2. that if you stick to these rules /guidelines it can be fun, 
  3. just like a game of hockey or monopoly or scrabble is fun.
And the audience is spellbound

There is not space to present the whole workshop. 
But here are three tips:

1. There is standard terminology, and a standard format

The chairman should say something like:
"The motion before the House tonight is 'This House  .....  '
"Speaking for the Proposition we have ........ and ....,,..... "           

"The Opposition tonight is provided by  ........  and   ............. "
(The chairman was given a script to help him say traditional sentences)
So two people speak for the motion, two people speak against the motion, there is time for points from the floor, then one person from each side gives a summary of points.

2. Make your points very clearly separated.

When you make your points in favour of a motion, make them very few and very clear as separate points (even number them). This admittedly makes it easier for the opposition to refute each of the points. But that is far better than the opposition saying "Well the proposal is a muddle, they have no case". And it makes it much easier for the Judge of the competition to see what is happening.

3. Don't add extra information and ideas in the summary

If you give the summary for your side, you can only include points made by the speakers and by the floor. You are not allowed to add extra ideas and information.

The Workshop:

1. Warm up exercise and listening:

At the beginning of the evening Anne had us sitting in tables of four. Our table was given the pair: past and present. Another table had summer and winter;  and so on. Two of the four then had to speak for 1 minute each in favour of the idea (past) and two had to oppose it (present).  The topics were easy, but it really taught us to listen hard to what the previous speaker was saying so we could refute the ideas.

2. Interval: 

Coffee, chat, strawberries and biscuits: meeting new people in the group, and visitors from other clubs.

3. Full debate:

Then we were shown how to run a (shortened) full debate. The chairman was given a standard text to use. We were given the mark scheme that the judges would use, and were asked to fill it in for one person - This was really helpful in seeing what judges are looking for. Our debate was "This house believes that mobile phones are killing communication."  

If you get opportunity to attend a debating workshop led by Anne Todd I recommend it.

Find out if you local speakers club is holding a debate

Chocolate prizes are given to all the debaters.

Below: Three of the debaters speak in turn

Saturday 15 October 2016

Saving Wildlife - Coffee Morning 1 November

All welcome at the Coffee Morning on 1 November 2016 at 
St John's Church, Settle, BD24 9JH  10am-midday

A display of some of the cards available

Earth has lost ½ its wildlife 
in 40 yrs

More specifically:  ‘in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half’ The Living Planet Report 2014-WWF

What can we do in Settle about this?

Saving Wildlife

Cards and Cake
10am  to 12
Tue 1 Nov

Coffee Morning
at St John’s Methodist Church
Settle, supporting the charities:-  

World Land Trust, Cool Earth
and the A Rocha Ghana project

Sunday 25 September 2016

St Chad's, the YNU and Leeds MSc Ecologists.

Have you ever wondered how people learn about all the wonderful creatures and creepy crawlies in Yorkshire?

Have you heard of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union, Yorkshire's prestigious society for both naturalists and natural history societies - that is now 155 years old?

Have you ever thought -"Is there anything of wildlife interest in my local churchyard?"


Well read on.

Each year, at the beginning of the Leeds University MSc Ecology Course, a day at St Chad's (Far Headingly, Leeds) is arranged with members of the Yorkshire Naturalists' Union and the new students.  The YNU "experts" get their transport paid, and the chance to inspire the "next generation". The students have opportunity to meet people with expertise on groups of animals and plants ... and learn a little about a new subject.  Such people are now becoming as rare as some of the plants and animals they study.

The YNU started 155 years ago. (We celebrated out 150th anniversary in 2011)
It is an umbrella organsation for 45 natural history societies in Yorkshire and nearby. It also has individual members who are enthusiasts in various fields of natural history.

This year Albert Henderson and Chris Young were not running a lichens workshop - so I had opportunity to run the workshop.

You learn by teaching.  :)

I just hope my four students will go away and try teaching other people a couple of the lichens that they learned to identify..

I went to St Chad's Church, Far Headingly the week before to meet Suzanne Dalton who is involved with St Chad's Green Team. She showed me round the churchyard and gave me copies of the excellent Nature Trail Leaflet and the Geology Leaflet.  

I was able to see how the churchyard is managed for wildlife.  The church was dedicated in 1868. It was built on farmland before herbicides and pesticides and intensive fertilizers were used, so there are some remnants of wildflowers and grasses such as Good Friday Grass and Sweet Vernal-grass. There is an area of grassland where the Pink Waxcap (or Ballerina) fungus grows (This was formerly a red data species).

She also gave me a list of lichens that the YNU had recorded in 2003.. specifically Chris Hitchin and albert Henderson 22-23 September..

Leeds at the beginning of the last century had very bad sulphur dioxide air pollution and soot. Leeds still has air pollution due to car fumes etc. The lichen flora is very restricted. "But this will make it easier for teaching complete beginners." I told myself.

I was delighted that day too to go and visit Albert Henderson who gave me tips about running the course. He suggested going to Golden Acre Park. I asked "Does Xanthoria polycarpa grow in the churchyard?" (This is sometimes known as Cushion Xanthoria and is a tiny golden lichen that grows well where there is Nitrogen oxide pollution. This is pictured on the charts that people use for the lichen nitrogen oxide air pollution survey organised by OPAL) I have failed to find it myself near Settle. .  He was surprised I had not seen it at Settle. "It grows in forks of twigs" he said. I was adamant. "It's not there," I said.

I visited Golden Acre Park (X84 bus) and saw the Xanthoria parietiena (Common Orange Lichen, or "Leafy Xanthoria) on the birch trees, and the cafe, and lake, but in the given (very short time) no X polycarpa.

Xanthoria polycarpa - Cushion Xanthoria - see how tiny it is compared to my fingernail.
I returned to Headingly and went for a walk into the south end of Meanwood Park where I found a lime tree with Xanthoria polycarpa on it. Hurray.

I looked at the churchyard again and caught a Number 1 bus back to the railway station.


So the day of 21st arrived.

I came with Sharon and Pete who were to run the freshwater biology workshop.

Rupert Quinnell of Leeds University welcomed us and the students.


Andy Millard told us about the history of the YNU. He showed people the St Chad's Churchyard leaflets.

I took my four students to the Ash tree at the entrance to St Chad's Parish Centre to introduce them to a few big colourful lichens. Previously I had recorded six different species of lichen on this trunk (compared to most trees that have none).

By the end of the day I had recorded 10 species on this trunk!!! It show the importance of looking very carefully, with handlenses.

This tree had some
Xanthoria parietiena (Common Orange lichen) (a foliose lichen), some Lepraria incana (a powder lichen). One girl noticed some Ramalina farinosa (Cartilage lichen or Strap lichen) - which is a fruticose lichen - and an indicator that the air is now not totally polluted. We found a twig on the ground with  a crustose lichen on it - Lecanora chlarotera - with pale fawn-pink "jam tarts"-like reproductive bodies. Physcia tenella is present, as may be Physcia adscendens

We returned to the parish centre. Other groups were beavering away: Snails, Spiders, Fungi, Flowers; Plant Galls, Insects

 In time it got quieter as other groups departed to look for specimens outside. I gave a formal introduction to lichens.
I showed them three crustose lichens on rocks I had brought in from near Settle, including the bright orange Caloplaca flavescens; and some lovely "Old Man's Beard Lichen (Usnea) from Scotland

Then we went to a table where Clare and Mark from the North & East Yorkshire Ecological Data Centre gave us a talk on recording systems and centres.
This is actually the "Flowers" group learning about DataBases

We had a look at the NBN gateway too - I asked to see the distribution of Xanthoria polycarpa - and indeed it had NOT been recorded close to Settle.

It must be about ten years since I attended a YNU conference when we leaned about NEYEDC and Data bases. 

It was a then rapidly developing subject, and a standard system had not quite stabilised.

Guess what. 

It is still a rapidly developing subject and a standard system has not quite stabilised.. 

"Sometimes projects get funding and they use the funding to develop an "App" for collecting online data for their project. But thought has not always been given to what happens to the data after their project has finished.." Mark said.

Any idea of going to Golden Acre Park was scrapped as we finally got outside -- into the churchyard and  --  sat down for lunch.

It was great to have a whole day to look at things carefully.
Porpidia tuberculosa - (sometimes called cigarette ash lichen) on acid rock.
See St Chad's spire in the distance -
and see how blackened the spire is by soot)

On lime-rich tombstones we found other species, some whose reproductive bodies are found in tiny holes dissolved the rock.

The Geology rail alerted us to ripple marks on the huge slab of Elland Sandstone at the entrance to the church: to special marks left by stone-masons on the outside of the lady-chapel (recycled old stone from much older buildings was used when this extension was built in 1911); to the tall Portland Stone obelisk. Portland Stone comes from the Isle of Portland in Dorset. The same rock is used for Leeds Civic Hall and the University clock tower. The leaflet says "It was a popular building stone in cities because unlike sandstone for example, the solution effect meant that it remained fairly clean.". Some curved fossil oyster shells are protruding 2 to 3mm from the surface - showing that this much limestone has dissolved.
We met other groups. Bill Ely showed us galls on beech leaves -  the Beech Leaf Miner  Phyllonorycter messaniella  and the Hairy Beech Gall caused by Hartigola annulipes 

We went back to the original Ash tree. I noticed a minute yellow lichen.

I had thought it might be a Candelariella .
Later, after the students had gone, I had time to test it with KOH.
It went red. 
So not Candelariella (which does not react with KOH). It must be another species of Xanthoria.

See it - a teeny weeny foliose lichen growing amongst the grey Physcia. See my finger nail for scale

It is the Xanthoria candelaria group  ( either X candelaria or X ucrainica). (Both grow in Nitrogen Oxide  polluted areas).
the 2003 YNU list had 44 lichens. We had found 20.

So our group had found 20 lichens, 2 algae, a Rove-beetle, a Harlequin Ladybird larva, some Bootlace (or Honey) Fungus and two Beech Galls. Not bad!!

Holding Dobson's book for identifying lichens

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