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Wild & Free

The town of Rugby in eastern Warwickshire is best known worldwide for the elitist boys’ boarding school that gives its name to the game with the oval ball.  The boys’ disposable incomes at least help to keep some of the town centre shops and cafés in business.  A former pupil at the school was the war poet Rupert Brooke, whose heart was forever England.  Rugby is also an industrial town, historically based around rail engineering as it lies on the, somewhat misnomered as it passes though the Midlands, West Coast Main Line from London Euston to Glasgow.  Rugby’s other major industry is the eponymous cement, with the very large factory located on the western edge of the town by the rail line to Coventry and Birmingham.  The company that owns the factory is called Cemex and has an architecturally appropriate tower block in the town centre as its head office.

In common with Banbury, mentioned on a previous blog post, Rugby has one of those town centres with more retail space than it will ever need, much of the town centre trade having been taken by the Elliott’s Field and Junction One Retail Parks about a mile north of the town centre on the Leicester Road (A426), which leads to M6.  Compounding this is the lack of free parking in the town centre (another issue common to Banbury).  In a car-oriented society, a lack of free town centre car parking disadvantages businesses based there in favour of the large chain outlets at those retail parks.  If parking charges are to be retained in town centres, then they should also be introduced at those out-of-town retail parks, so that there is a level playing field.  In one of the two semi-pedestrianised streets in the town centre there used to be a fairly large vegetarian café and craft shop called Summersault; the vegan options were always quite limited though.

Rugby does however has an independently run health food store, something else that it has in common with Banbury.  I understand from having spoken with the proprietors during the Summer of 2021 that they took over Wild & Free early during the previous year.  When the Lockdown started in March 2020, the shop, as a food retailer, was still allowed to open, but suffered a loss of passing trade, due to lack of footfall, with so many other town centre shops being forced – unjustifiably – to close.  The borough council’s ‘social distancing’ pavement stickers obviously achieved their aim as local people socially distanced themselves from the town centre.  Supermarkets by contrast, particularly those with their own car park, didn’t have that problem.  If you still haven’t realised it, the 2020/21 Lockdowns were never about a virus causing a respiratory illness.  They were a deliberate policy to kill off independently run businesses.

Wild & Free survived by having an organic fruit ‘n’ veg box home delivery service, plus whatever other foods sold in the shop customers would like to have delivered; this service had been inherited from the previous owners.  However once trade in the shop premises itself had returned to normal by late Spring 2021, I understand from the owners that the home delivery service was taking up too much time on top of running the shop and trying to develop an on-line ordering service.  I also found out that not only are there strict conditions on getting Soil Association certification to sell organic produce but that these have to be continually reviewed.  That in itself adds to the cost and makes it difficult for independent retailers to compete with a large national company such as Riverford.  It shouldn’t be that way, as organics should embrace localisation in terms of retail, as well as production.

Fitting in with the theme of sustainability and Rugby’s engineering heritage, it is the home of Intermediate Technology Development Group, founded by Ernst Schumacher (the author of ‘Small is Beautiful’), a company whose remit was for small-scale standalone projects in developing countries.  It is now known as Practical Action and still is based in Rugby.  Be aware however that the word ‘sustainability’ has now been hijacked by people whose outlook is totally different to that which Schumacher held.  These include people who want to contaminate the food supply by gene editing, without the consent of the public.  This is why Health Food Stores such as Wild & Free are now needed more than ever, so that people can continue to be allowed to make informed choices.

Energy Crisis

The above photo taken in the Summer of 2011 is of Scroby Sands wind farm, as seen from the beach at Great Yarmouth, which I visited as a day trip from Norwich, where I had spent a few days on a short break.  The wind farm is owned by the German utility Eon, one of the Big Five energy supply cartel, whose British HQ is in Coventry.  Great Yarmouth is one of those British seaside towns that felt like it had seen better days, before the advent of cheap package holidays to the Spanish Costas in the 1970’s and from the mid-1990’s onwards, the growth of budget scheduled flights to continental Europe.  It could be, but isn’t, a major trading port for Holland and hence northern Europe.  That port is further down the East Anglian coast at Felixstowe, itself close to the ferry port of Harwich.

Whether the wind farm is visually intrusive is a subjective opinion, depending on one’s point of view.  One would have to ask the people living in Great Yarmouth what they think of it and whether it causes a noise disturbance to those who live immediately alongside the coastal promenade.  I feel that wind farms like these should be owned by the local community that is graced by their presence and it may be that their being owned by a large energy corporation, rather than under local ownership, causes resentment.  That this company is German, rather than British owned, could also have contributed to the large Brexit vote in 2016, where the local population voted by a ratio of almost three-to-one for the UK to leave the EU.  The other major factor in that vote, like in many British coastal towns, that the people living in them feel left behind economically, that the town has been deliberately neglected by central government.

On previous blog posts I have already mentioned about the decline of Britain’s offshore oil and gas reserves giving an added impetus to the development of renewable energy, with off-shore wind farms and a lesser number of on-shore ones being a favoured way of tackling that resource depletion.  Though the development of wind turbines from which to generate electricity is not a recent innovation.  It was something that I first became aware of in the late 1980’s from a professional perspective and I still have a copy of New Scientist from nearly thirty-four years ago, forecasting what the then future held for wind power.  In looking at the economic viability of wind farms, it did state the obvious that the highest wind speeds are located in upland or coastal areas.  This was illustrated by showing a map of isovents, areas of equal wind speeds, Great Yarmouth, like much of the East Anglian coast, falling on an isovent of 6 metres per second, higher than that of most inland areas of Britain.

One issue about wind farms of great concern to vegans is the risk to birds.  Intuitively, one would think that the noise and the air disturbance caused by the rotating blades may act as a deterrent, but that hasn’t necessarily proven to be the case.  And if wind turbines are located on a migratory route, then when first installed they are likely to cause bird deaths, even if on future migrations the birds learn to avoid the turbine blades.  The New Scientist article stated that the US Fish and Wildlife Service was at the time investigating claims that birds of prey had crashed into turbine blades.  Such claims have been more recently made about Dogger Bank, the large sandbank in the North Sea between Britain, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.  It has what is claimed to be the world’s largest off-shore windfarm, using British-produced steel.  If the allegations of avian fatalities are correct, then one person who ought to be concerned is Dale Vince, the owner of Ecotricity, Britain’s ‘greenest energy supplier’ and as stated on the Vegan Society’s website as a partner, ‘the world’s only official vegan energy supplier’, Dale Vince himself being a vegan.  He was coincidentally born in Great Yarmouth.

Returning to the New Scientist article from 1989, it conceded that many of the inland areas with the required wind speeds to make electricity generation economic are Areas of Outstanding National Beauty or National Parks.  Some of the otherwise suitable areas however are not (or were not at the time of publication) because of steep terrain, marshland or forestry, roads, settlements etc, thus substantially reducing that available inland area.  The article therefore concluded an upward limit of twenty per cent of Britain’s electricity requirements could be produced from these inland areas, with nearly three quarters of these areas being in Scotland; that in itself would necessitate the transmission of much of that power to Southern England to meet the demands there.  The article also addressed the issue of specified noise limits, with there being within the European Community only one German province that had legislated as such, Denmark and the Netherlands having guidelines only, with the UK not even having these!

To also quote directly from the article: ‘Studies carried out in the Netherlands by the Dutch Institute of Nature Conservation and in Britain by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds indicate that wind turbines have little effect on bird life’.  However numerous studies undertaken since then would refute those claims.  For example a report from June 2020 by Wagingen University & Research in the Netherlands claims that the effect of wind farms on bird mortality are ‘often underestimated’, that a small excess mortality can result in a much larger percentage decrease in populations for the species concerned after ten years.  An article from October 2021 on the Australian website Cosmos quotes an employee of Elmoby Ecology that turbines themselves ‘don’t kill many birds’ when compared with other causes including climate change.

The RSPB also highlights climate change as the reason for the development of renewables as part of ‘our energy transition’, although it admits that wind farms ‘can harm birds through disturbance, displacement, acting as barriers, habitat loss and collision’.  When climate change is invoked in these discussions it does feel like a diversion as wind farms in themselves do not prevent climate change.  As the principle of energy conservation is that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, the construction of thousands of wind farms, each taking energy from the wind, could in itself have an effect on climate as yet not widely discussed, if even studied.  If one were to examine the level of avian fatalities from other forms of electricity generation, then perhaps we would be better off using coal, as the only bird deaths that used to result from mining were those of the proverbial canary in the coal mine, replaced by modern technology more than three and a half decades ago.


How green is the wind? – Alexi Clarke, New Scientist, No 1666, 27 May 1989, pp 62-65 (click on thumbnail images below).  The author is credited as a researcher in the Faculty of Technology at the Open University and the author of Windfarm Location and Environmental Impact, published by the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment (NATTA), an organisation that I subsequently became a member of for a few years.  I still have some of its bi-monthly newsletters which covered a broader range of issues than just renewable energy.

Green Routes

Green Routes is a vegetarian café in which most of the menu is vegan, located on Magdalen Road, about two miles south-east of Oxford city centre (see map), in an area with traffic calming measures and 20 mph speed limits.  So its name may be considered appropriate.  Also on Magdalen Road are (amongst other retail and hospitality establishments) the Wild Honey wholefood shop, whose goods for sale are clearly not all vegan, though I did see vegan honea on sale; and the Magic Café, another vegetarian establishment, which on the day last month that I visited this area was unfortunately closed due to a bereavement.  I have been into the Magic Café once before, well over ten years ago; at the time the only vegan selection on the menu was the soup, though the member of staff who told me wasn’t even sure of that!

Magdalen Road connects the Cowley and Iffley Roads, that converge at a large roundabout known as The Plain about half-way towards the city centre, which is itself then accessed by going over Magdalen Bridge.  All the streets in the neighbourhood are mainly of Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses, many of which have been converted to shared rented accommodation, mostly but not entirely occupied by students at Brookes University, the former Polytechnic.  The traffic calming measures are common to some of the streets between Magdalen Road and The Plain.  They are also common to the streets on the other side of Magdalen Road, as far as Howard Street, which also connects the Cowley and Iffley Roads.  There are similar traffic calming measures on the streets on the other side of the Cowley Road, which itself as a highly commercialised, hence busy pedestrian area, also has a 20 mph speed limit.  The most recent A-Z (2015) shows Magdalen Road and Howard Street as one-way, but in opposite directions, Magdalen Road from Iffley to Cowley Road, Howard Street the opposite.

Such traffic calming measures are usually introduced in response to residents’ concerns about their streets being used as short-cuts, ‘rat runs’ to use the British term, between main roads.  Whether this was the case or not, I don’t know.  The measures could have been in response to lobbying from green or road safety campaigners.  This is an area where the Green Party has long had a high degree of electoral support and is one of those areas where Britain’s ecology movement started during the 1970’s (though as detailed on a previous post, the Ecology Party itself, from which the Green Party developed, started in Coventry).  The Wild Honey shop occupies premises where the Inner Bookshop used to be after it had moved from the Cowley Road.  As well as selling a wide range of green and New Age literature, the Inner Bookshop was also the base of the radical publication Green Line, which was always independent of the Green Party, though broadly supportive of its aims.

It was in this particular area of Oxford, known as St Clement’s ward, that Caroline Lucas started her political career as an Oxfordshire County Councillor thirty years ago (having failed the previous year to get elected to Oxford City Council).  She later became a Member of the European Parliament and is to date the Green Party’s one and only MP in the UK Parliament (for Brighton Pavillion, more than a hundred miles away on the south coast).  Her late Green Party colleague, Mike Woodin, was an Oxford City Councillor, elected the following year and who became one of the Green Party’s principal spokespeople.  In 2004, shortly before his death, they published a book entitled Green Alternatives to Globalisation.  Although the Green Party has found Oxford to be fertile territory for winning council seats, since the early 1990’s Oxford East Parliamentary constituency has gone from being moderately to very strongly pro-Labour, Anneliese Dodds being the current MP.  As she is proud of letting people know, she lives in an area of council (or ex-council) houses further up the Iffley Road, known as Rose Hill (which borders on the pleasant old villagey part of Iffley).  It is in the south-eastern suburb of Cowley where most of Oxford’s heavy industry has been located, the BMW Mini works being a major employer.  This factory, originally Morris Motors, later BMC and British Leyland, has long been important to the local economy.  On part of the former British Leyland site, Oxford Business Park is located, an example of the new economy replacing the old.  Its remit is to be a ‘science and innovation’ cluster, the businesses including Oxford Biomedica, Spy Biotech and Jazz Pharmaceuticals, all of which tie in well with proximity to the University of Oxford’s Medical Sciences Division in Headington, home of the Jenner Institute (where the Astra Zeneca ‘vaccine’ was developed).

That maybe sets into context a recent development, in that the traffic calming measures mentioned above have now been supplemented by a Low-Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme introduced by Oxfordshire County Council, following a consultation with local residents, with the vast majority of those who responded being opposed to it.  You could argue that people who are opposed to a new local authority project are more likely to be vociferous in their views than those who support or who are just indifferent.  My guess and it is only that, is that the LTN scheme may well be tacitly supported by those (students or otherwise) living in shared rented accommodation and who cannot afford a car, whilst the opposition must be from permanent residents.  Perhaps the opposition isn’t just based on the obvious reason that certain residential roads are no longer direct through routes in a motor vehicle, but a fear that it may signal the area becoming one entirely of shared rented (student) accommodation.  Not surprisingly, Oxfordshire Green Party supports the LTN’s.  From her personal website, on a letter that she sent last March to the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Anneliese Dodds supports the LTN’s in principle, but with the caveat that more money needs to be invested in local public transport.  This would include the development of the Cowley branch line, that is used for freight, to also be used for passenger services.  It would provide a link from Blackbird Leys and Littlemore to Oxford station and has been a topic of discussion for many years.

magdelan road wild honey 1

From Wild Honey’s website, this is their view of the issue.

East Oxford LTNs – access to Magdalen Road shop:

 As a local, independent health food business, we are very much in support of cleaner, safer streets, and fewer cars, and we also understand that some people will need to come to us by car, either due to distance or for a whole range of health-related reasons.

If you need to get to Magdalen Road by car it is still very straightforward.  From Cowley Road, you can drive up Magdalen Road and park just by the barrier near the Goldfish Bowl, 50 meters from us.  This is also still accessible from Leopold St/St. Mary’s Road, where there is plenty of parking.  From Iffley Road, access is unchanged and you can still get to us from all of the side streets off Iffley Road.  There is also plenty of free parking in the streets surrounding us.  Please help spread the word that vehicle access is actually largely unchanged, as the Road Closed signs have been hugely damaging for the whole community there.

We are also in the process of installing bike racks outside the shop, to make it easier for those of you shopping by bike.

However you get here, we very much forward to look forward to welcoming you back soon.

So it appears that the signs are sending out a message of ‘no access’ rather than that access is still possible, but that the County Council have failed to suggest the best routes to reach certain businesses and that the roads themselves are not actually closed but need to be accessed via different routes (in what is still an experimental scheme).  Alternatively, it may be that some business owners have hyped up the effect of the LTN, thereby sending out a ‘closed for business’ message to people elsewhere.  Could they have done this deliberately in order to get the LTN scrapped?  For those reading this who are unfamiliar with Oxford, please note that there are five Park and Ride sites on the periphery of the city, from which frequent bus services operate to the city centre.  None of these Park and Ride routes goes along the Cowley or Iffley Roads, but there are frequent bus connections in the city centre that do.  It must be said that neither the traffic calming measures nor the LTN are preventing delivery vehicles (and nor should they) as I saw one in Magdalen Road from Essential Trading, a long-established wholefood retailer (run as a workers’ co-operative) based in Bristol.

My own opinion is that I think that Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods are a good idea as long as there are exemptions for disabled drivers and emergency vehicles.  So if I lived that area I’d support the LTN in principle as long as these exemptions are in place, though I dare say that my opinions might well get shouted down.  But then, as a vegan, I’m used to my opinions being part of a minority.  Fifteen months ago on a Saturday afternoon in Oxford, I participated in a protest against the totalitarian policy of vaccine passports, where we met at Bonn Square and held a march through Queen Street and Cornmarket Street.  The reaction from the shopping public was mostly indifference and in a couple of cases (no doubt fully, at the time, jabbed up) hostility.  From the recent opposition to Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods. there is a certain consistency in that it appears that Oxford residents like to pollute their local neighbourhoods, just as they like to pollute their own bodies; and in each case believe that others should be subject to the same toxic chemicals.

Since the 1970’s, most new housing developments have been Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods by default with one main access road feeding a number of cul-de-sacs before the main access road itself becomes a cul-de-sac or maybe loops back upon itself (such as Boundary Brook Road, just off Iffley Road south of Howard Street).  So these modern developments are not short-cuts between main roads.  As such the streets are generally safer for children playing.  I accept however that LTN’s may not be appropriate everywhere.  Note that in Oxford, an LTN has now also been introduced in Temple Cowley, which from Magdalen Road is at least three-quarters of a mile away in the direction away from the city centre.  This has been introduced to stop people using it as a short-cut between Oxford Road, Cowley (the continuation of the Cowley Road) and Hollow Way, the main road in the direction of Headington.  For the LTN’s in both areas, it would probably have been less contentious to make all the relevant streets one-way only for all traffic, with no exemptions for bicycles, lest any motorists think that cyclists are being given preferential treatment.  Given the number of parked cars on each side of these roads, the usable road space is in many cases not wide enough for two motor vehicles to pass each other.  From some of the opposition voiced on Twitter to the LTN’s it is the appearance of the barriers that is angering some people more than their function, whereas motorists are well-used to one-way streets and no entry signs for any drivers attempting to go contrary to the traffic flow.

A separate traffic management issue that is due to be implemented in Oxford, by the County Council (and to be implemented in Bath and Canterbury amongst other cities), is that of dividing the city into separate permitted-zones for private motor vehicles, between which only a limited number of journeys, currently set at one hundred per year, will be allowed.  I disagree with this, although I understand that the reason is to reduce the number of cross-city journeys by requesting in Oxford’s case that residents use the ring-road instead.  The problem is that many people’s journeys will become considerably longer (far more so than an LTN may result in) and the Oxford ring-road is already congested at peak times, the western part of it being part of the A34, a long-established important route between the Midlands and a few of the major south-coast ports.  People who are opposed to both Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods and the city-wide zoning are deliberately treating them as the same thing, when they are not.  But in the tribal world of social media a nuanced distinction between the two isn’t allowed.

Returning to the first paragraph, there is incidentally another Wild Honey shop, under the same ownership, in Little Clarendon Street, between the city centre and Jericho, another area with a high proportion of shared rented Victorian terraced houses, lived in not surprisingly to a large degree by students.  If you are walking into town from Magdalen Road en route to Jericho, or as I was, back to the rail station (itself not far from Jericho), then you’ll notice a sign for a Zero Emission Zone, the first such in the country.  In principle all streets should be Zero Emission Zones, as we all have the right to breathe in air that is uncontaminated by toxic pollutants, just as we have the right to drink water that is similarly free from toxic pollutants, to consume organic food free from chemical pesticides and to use natural medicines that are free from toxic pharmaceuticals.  The agenda behind Zero (and Low) Emission Zones is however a rather dubious ‘green transition’ to electric vehicles, in which the environmental damage takes place upon mining the materials for the batteries; and bear in mind that even if such a battery is charged entirely by renewable sources, there is an environmental cost in their manufacture.  Motorists who can’t afford to buy an electric vehicle, but whose journey necessitates travelling along Oxford’s High Street (which is part of the A420) for example, will end up paying a fine, leading to suspicions that perhaps the real agenda is a revenue collection scheme.

It should not be forgotten though that a previous generation of urban planners, elected councillors and unelected council officials alike, encouraged car use, not surprisingly in Oxford, given the economic dependence on the motor industry that it has had for more than a century.  Along the south-eastern stretch of the ring-road there is a Sainsbury’s superstore that opened in 1986.  In Cowley, on the site of the former Grove Cranes factory, is the more recent development of Templars Shopping Park; and Oxford Business Park in Cowley, as mentioned above, is on a site adjacent to the ring-road.  Such out-of-town superstores, retail parks and business parks, all designed to be primarily accessible by car, have been part of a national trend.  Most people under the age of about forty have grown up in that car-oriented culture.  So when the current generation of elected councillors and unelected council officials, with their new found environmental zeal, adopt superior airs, perhaps they should eat a bit of humble pie on behalf of their predecessors.  One particularly infamous proposal more than eighty years ago was for a road through Christ Church Meadow to divert traffic away from the High Street where the Zero Emission Zone has recently been implemented.  This excellent article from the Christ Church Cathedral website highlights the difficulties in trying to preserve a historic city centre alongside the increasing traffic growth associated with an industrialising and expanding city.

Whilst ‘climate change’ is invoked as the reason behind the current ‘green transition’ and genuine green measures to encourage people to cycle, walk or use public transport in preference to driving, the bigger picture is resource depletion, in particular that Britain has long-since lost its self-sufficiency in oil.  When Britain was self-sufficient in oil during the 1980’s and even a net exporter, the Thatcher government sold the state’s remaining shares in British Petroleum.  This, like the privatisations before and afterwards, provided a short-term injection of revenue to be used for tax cuts at the expense of longer-term revenues that could have been invested in the transport infrastructure.  Even discounting the geological and environmental damage that would be caused by fracking for shale oil, it can never replace in quantity or quality the Brent Crude from the North Sea; and the energy expended per barrel recovered to extract that shale oil would be greater.  So any paranoid rambling you may hear that ‘They don’t want us driving cars’ is missing the point entirely.  Where exactly is the fuel going to come from to do so?  The obvious answer would be more neo-imperialist wars like ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’, for which about a million people (myself included) protested against in London exactly twenty years ago to the day.  And how was that war and subsequent military actions in the Middle East, Afghanistan and now Ukraine paid for?  The taxes have to come from somewhere and fuel duty is the most obvious source.

magdalen bridge zez sign

Further reading

Energy Beyond Oil – Paul Mobbs, Troubador Publishing, Leicester, England, 2005.  This is a very informative book on energy resources, albeit now somewhat out of date, written by an environmental campaigner in Banbury, though I don’t share his apocalyptic view of climate change.  In Box 28, p152, of the book, he calculated that shifting the majority of car use to public transport wouldn’t make enough of an energy saving to overcome the problem of Peak Oil.  The problem with that message is that it deters motorists from even considering travelling by public transport instead.  Rather, it just sends out a message of do not travel at all, something which for the vast majority of people simply isn’t possible, not least the numerous people who regularly commute by train the twenty-two miles from Banbury to Oxford, because housing costs in Oxford are considerably more expensive.


On my first post on this blog, I mentioned how I ‘transitioned’ to going vegetarian in the late Spring / early Summer of 1986 and a few years later, vegan, though in neither case did I consider it to be a ‘transitioning’ process.  In each case there was an obvious end goal and the transition really didn’t take much time.  Going vegetarian meant cutting out what was already a low consumption of meat, poultry and fish.  It also meant looking out to avoid animal fat or any other food ingredients obviously derived from the slaughter of animals, birds or fish, though I’ll admit that my knowledge back then of food additives wasn’t great.  In a non-dietary sense I had no leather clothing in any case and may not have even owned any leather shoes as I wore trainers (sneakers) even during winter!

Going vegan in in a dietary sense meant no longer consuming any dairy products and paying more attention to food additives.  This was greatly helped in those pre-internet days by having joined the Vegetarian Society, receiving from it upon joining a copy of the 1989 edition of The Vegetarian Handbook containing a comprehensive (for the time) list of Common Food Additives & Contaminants.  I already used to avoid eggs or anything containing them.  In a non-dietary sense there really wasn’t any change as I owned no woollen clothing.  Nowadays many people try to make both of those transitions in one go.  In reality they probably do so progressively rather than overnight by adopting a phased approach to dietary change and that of leather or wool on a replacement basis as needed, rather than just discarding shoes or clothing that may still be wearable.  Each of us who has made these transitions to vegetarian then vegan has done so at our own pace without any degree of coercion.

Coercion of any sort will always backfire and if during Veganuary, someone is curious to make the transition, the thing to do is point them in the direction of where information can be found and let them make their own decisions, progressing at what pace they deem appropriate.  There is an end goal, though one shouldn’t expect anyone to achieve that overnight.

leamington library reference section transition town display

This leads me onto the ‘Transition’ movement founded in 2006 by permaculturalist Rob Hopkins. ‘Transitioning’ is used in many contexts, it has for example been used by the neo-liberal globalists of the ‘Chicago School’ to describe countries that they’ve been bringing under their ideology, such as those of the former Eastern Bloc, where utilities and industry, which had been under state ownership, were sold off to private multi-national corporations via what Naomi Klein described in her book The Shock Doctrine (Part 4, Lost in Transition), first published in 2007.  ‘Transitioning’ has also more recently been adopted by those people who believe that claiming a by different gender identity, it will enable a change to their biological sex, although that is genetically impossible.  This ideology is mainly being used by some men in order to exclude women from society.

I was already aware of the ‘Transition’ movement from having found via WordPress a blog post elsewhere on the subject, but until I saw the above display in the reference section of Leamington Spa library last year was unaware that it is (or had been) a ‘Transition Town’.  The books in the display should give some idea of what is (was) involved, though as none of them were published more recently than 2011 and most are up to ten years older than that, the local initiative in Leamington may well have stalled.  The manifesto for want of a better term is the book on the bottom right of the display, The Transition Handbook, From oil dependency to local resilience, published in 2008.  The library has three copies and I have since learned, it is possible to buy a second-hand copy quite cheaply on-line, which makes me wonder if too many were printed in the first place, or used to begin with, but that local initiatives elsewhere may have started but stalled as people lost interest.  Leamington Spa is listed in the book as one of many ‘Transition Towns’ as is Coventry, a city of more than a third of a million people where the Ecology Party had been founded in 1975 and where I had lived for more than a decade at the time of this book’s publication, without at the time then ever having heard of the ‘Transition’ movement, let alone Coventry – or perhaps one suburb of the city – being the locality of one such initiative.

The synopsis of the book essentially is that current at the time, as they still are, ‘Western’ consumer lifestyles are environmentally as well as economically unsustainable.  That message was not exactly new at the time.  What Hopkins was advocating was for us to turn our backs on globalisation and move back towards a more locally-oriented society.  So far, so good, that has been the message of the green movement from the start.  The ‘Shock Doctrine’ in this case, that the populations of wealthy countries need to wake up to is that of ‘Peak Oil’, the point where remaining reserves become increasingly expensive to recover.  It is not just oil, it is all fossil fuels.  In the case of Britain, our economic self-sufficiency in oil that we had during the 1980’s and 1990’s is long gone, we still have plenty of coal but the mines have all closed and our North Sea gas reserves, like the oil reserves, are depleted, because of the decision to shift electricity generation from coal to gas to meet Kyoto Protocol targets on climate change.  Building combined-cycle gas turbine power stations was the post-privatisation option in the 1990’s, rather than building a new generation of coal fired power stations.  And nuclear power stations, because of the high capital cost, long-lead in time and possibility of a Public Inquiry, have never been attractive to the private sector looking to make a quick buck.

Hopkins links Peak Oil and hence depletion of all fossil fuels to climate change.  The danger with this however is that sceptism about the latter being an ‘emergency’ (a scepticism that I happen to share) can then lead to a denial about how to tackle the former, although the depletion of fossil fuel resources and hence the need to diversify away from them has been known since long before ‘global warming’ became a hot topic in the late 1980’s.  Oil by-products, he recognises, are one of the features of modern life, including nylon and polyester for clothing and PVC, which is sometimes used in clothing as a leather substitute.  However, even if these were to become more expensive to manufacture they ought to be durable enough to be re-used.  The major problem with forecasting when Peak Oil will occur, or has it already occurred? – and remember that this book was published a decade and a half ago – is the accuracy of the data, when there are different datasets from different sources and none can be entirely accurate.  But the general synopsis is that the major world economies need to diversify away from it; and not to rely on increasingly dirty sources such as trying to extract oil from tar sands or via fracking.  Fair enough.  The main problem that I have with the book is the over-use of the corporate Newspeak word ‘resilience’, mentioned many times in the first chapter, which is about Peak Oil and climate change, it sets the tone for the book.  From a vegan perspective, replacing polyester with wool would be a backward step, as would the demechanisation that he desires, in replacing modern machinery such as tractors, with animal labour, horses pulling ploughs.  Even if the horses were well looked after, what would happen to them at the end of their working lives?  And would Hopkins also like transport to be demechanised, with horse-drawn trams, stagecoaches and carts replacing cars, vans, lorries, buses, coaches and trains?

Whilst embracing localisation, Hopkins didn’t mind somewhat distorting the truth in order to make a point.  He recognised that the supermarket chains operate on a high turnover of stock, hence depending on the product may only keep from a few days’ worth to a few weeks’ worth in warehouses.  He mentioned a ‘truckers’ strike’ in 2000 as having exposed this weakness in supply, however such a strike never happened.  Rather it was lorry drivers, to use the British term, blockading oil refineries to protest at the high level of taxation that many ‘greens’ support, which led to a decline in fuel available, hence the lack of deliveries.  The lorry drivers also staged go-slows on motorways and in their protests at oil refineries were joined by taxi drivers and farmers.  During that strange week in September 2000 the Great British public indulged in their now well-established habit of panic buying, of bread, cows’ milk and other perishable food, no doubt resulting in a lot of waste from people buying more than they consumed when supplies returned to normal.  Unlike in March 2020, I don’t recall any panic buying of toilet paper, so that must be a more modern trend!  In my lifetime I have only known one genuine food shortage and then only of bread, due to millers going on strike resulting in a shortage of flour.  But that was back in 1977 when supermarkets were considerably smaller and a high proportion of people still purchased bread from proper bakeries, some of which were part of a chain, others independent; none back then were ‘artisan’!  Moving forward to September 2000 again, some of the panic buying was also of flour, when the bread had run out.  I wonder how much of it ever got used?

Hopkins had and may still have a particular vision as to how a ‘Transition Town’ could develop via an initiative based on certain concepts and steps. But reading it I found that he came across rather like a management consultant, with the buzzword ‘resilience’ included of course.  And some of the initiatives, such as having a printed local currency, may only have succeeded because of their novelty value.  But the reality is that complete localisation within a national economy, let alone a global one, is impossible.  It is a parochial pre-industrial world view proposed for a post-industrial world, in which no-one commutes more than a few miles or has any reason to travel further than that.  In the real world, people commute because they cannot afford to live close to their principal place of employment, or because personal circumstances don’t allow it.  In the real world, two good salaries are required to purchase even a modest abode and as likely as not each partner may be employed in a different town, maybe even more than one hour’s journey from each other.  More to the point, long-term security of employment has long been in decline and why should people be continually obliged to move home, rather than being allowed to put roots in one particular place, just because their place of employment may vary from week-to-week, month-to-month, year-to-year?  There are millions of people in Britain and in other largely post-industrial societies who are in this position, where commuting to different places, which may be more than an hour’s journey from home, is an economic necessity for survival.  Rob Hopkins can present idealistic alternatives, but in the real world, that is all that they can ever be.  Even if someone has a permanent contract of employment based at one location, the nature of the employment may necessitate regular journeys once a week or so, away from that location.  For the vast majority veganism is less difficult to transition to and has a definite end goal; and on a personal level can be achieved without societal changes, whilst continuing to campaign for them.  The problem with Rob Hopkins’ ‘Transition Movement’ is that it is unclear what the end goal is.  That we should all live in ‘15 minute cities’, forbidden from travelling further afield, to visit friends, family, have holidays, attend events elsewhere and just understand what living really means?

Primary Reference

The Transition Handbook.  From oil dependency to local resilience – Rob Hopkins, Green Books, Dartington, England, 2008.

Additional Reference

The Shock Doctrine – Naomi Klein, paperback edition, Penguin Books, London, England, 2008

Natural Health

Banbury is a market town of approximately fifty thousand inhabitants, with an economy heavily dependent on food processing.  It is situated roughly half way between Warwick and Oxford and is in the latter county.  Its economic area, its hinterland, also includes the adjacent part of Northamptonshire.  When I’ve travelled down to Oxford and back for the day by train, I’ve occasionally stopped off in Banbury on the way back.  It’s a peculiar feature of rail ticket pricing that breaking one’s journey there in a real or virtual sense makes it less expensive than buying a straight through ticket.  Like many market towns nowadays it has more retail space than it will ever need and did even before the Spring 2020 Lockdown.  In Banbury’s case it has an indoor pedestrianised shopping centre, which looks like it was developed speculatively in the hope of attracting more business, with one ‘flagship’ store, a Debenhams, used in order to attract others.  But that store has now closed as Debenhams Retail Group had been in financial trouble for several years before the Lockdown which finally killed it off.

Last year by chance I discovered a health food store that I was previously unaware of; though it wasn’t new, it is located on a street that is just off one of the main outdoor pedestrianised thoroughfares.  Like all shops of its kind, it struggles to compete with supermarkets in terms of food sales, so it relies on sales of supplements to stay in business, whether or not this was part of the original business model when it was founded.  You might argue that a retailer promoting ‘Natural Health’ as part of its business name should be focused on food and maybe herbal health remedies.  In this case I know that the proprietor bought it as a going concern just over two years ago and understandably didn’t want to change the business name, when the shop had an established customer base.  However the sale of supplements in health food stores could also be viewed as a bait to try to encourage people, who live mainly on a diet of processed foods, to amend their respective diets accordingly.  Like all health food stores it sells certain manufactured goods, such as vegan herbal / pepper pates and sprouted rye bread as well as vegan / cruelty-free toothpastes and toiletries.

But even with the healthiest of diets, most people do need to supplement during the winter with Vitamins C, D3 and K2, Quercetin and Zinc.  That is what I am doing and it was the most sensible health advice that was suggested during the start of the ‘Coronavirus Pandemic’ in the late winter of 2020.  Should you stop off in Banbury for any reason I’d recommend visiting this shop.  Note that the proprietor never enforced mask wearing as she recognised that it does more harm than good, being the equivalent of having a germ-ridden snotty hanky tied over your nose and mouth all day; the pre-2020 advice from the NHS always being ‘Catch it.  Bin it.  Kill it’.  The value of Vitamin D3 was recognised early on by two retired GP’s Dr David Anderson and Dr David Grimes in a book published in July 2020.  They recommend 100 micrograms (4000 IU per day).  Sensible supplementing negates the need for any vaccines, experimental or otherwise, but that doesn’t suit the pharmaceutical industry, Big Pharma or the medical professionals who have shamefully sold out to it.

banbury natural health store 2s

Vegan Agriculture

The town centres of Warwick and Leamington Spa lie approximately three miles (five kilometres) apart and are linked by two main roads, Emscote Road (the A445) to the north and Myton Road (the A425) to the south; it was from the latter of these that I took the photographs for the Commonwealth Games cycle road race, shown on a previous blog post.  The Grand Union Canal, on its route from Birmingham to London passes under both of these roads in a direction running roughly north-west to south-east; whilst between these roads it passes over, via an aqueduct, the River Avon and the railway line that connects the two towns.  From south of the River Avon the canal forms the official boundary between the two towns for a stretch of maybe about a mile.

Via ribbon development along each of the main roads, followed by housing estates being built off them the two towns merged into each other several decades ago; whilst the towns themselves have continued to expand outwards forming a contiguous urban / suburban sprawl of more than a hundred thousand people.  Over the past five years there have large scale housing developments built immediately to the south of both towns, with thousands of dwellings built on what was until recently arable farmland.  Thousands more dwellings are planned, that will destroy even more of that farmland.  This is an ecocidal policy as it means that with more people resident in the local conurbation and less local farmland, food needs to transported further.  This problem is not unique to Warwick & Leamington, it is happening to a large degree all over England.  (Even prior to the Spring 2020 Lockdown, there was plenty of empty office and retail space that could have been converted for housing and now there is more of each).

In the middle of this conurbation and straddling each side of the canal (with its own bridge across it) lies Jephson’s Farm, shown on the somewhat pastoral scene above as viewed from the canal towpath where it runs along the top of the aqueduct.  As I took this photograph just over three years ago, then the sheep shown on it will long since have been slaughtered for consumption, their skins and their wool will have been used for clothing, the collagen from their joints for cosmetics and any other parts of their corpses that could be ulilised will have been.  Some ‘environmentally conscious’ meat-eaters may see this as a ‘sustainable’ use of a resource; and from the views of the farm the sheep are grass-fed, though I don’t know what other feed that they may be given.

Farmers are currently being incentivised by the British government to get out of farming and many ‘awake’ people have linked this to Agenda 2030.  Many meat-eaters, paranoid about the growth of the market for ‘plant-based’ processed foods, believe that ‘they don’t want us eating meat’; ‘they’ being the World Economic Forum.  It would be more accurate to say that ‘they’ don’t want us eating any food that is the result of agriculture rather than a laboratory, followed by a factory.  The meat-eaters ignore how many animal-derived processed foods have long been on the market and that the ‘plant-based’ varieties are still far fewer.  They also ignore that most meat is packaged in a factory of some form to be sold as such, cellophane wrapped in supermarkets (an issue that PETA has highlighted in one of its few sensible forms of protest).

But returning the subject of this specific farm, on the numerous times that I have walked along that stretch of the canal towpath, I have wondered, well what if it weren’t there?  Would it have been built upon by now?  Some of it may well have been, whilst some may have been set aside as part of a ‘green’ corridor that links both towns along the path of the Avon and its tributary the Leam, which flows into the Avon a short distance upriver from the aqueduct.  If the owner of this farm were to take an offer to sell up, I would hope that the land would not get built upon, as it is nice to experience a little bit of countryside in an otherwise distinctly urbanised area (there being a Tesco Superstore and a McDonald’s just before the canal reaches Emscote Road to the north).  For this farm, as with any others with animal-based agriculture the obvious answer would be to cultivate the land with crops.

As I put on a blog post last November, growing soya or other crops, should the land be suitable, could feed more people.  Even if the land were not kept as a single farm, it could be divided into allotments to allow people to grow their own crops.  On the blog post that I recently did about the Leamington Eco Fest, Canalside Community Food, a community-supported agriculture scheme, located the other side of Leamington, has a long waiting list to join, so this would be an ideal place to start a similar project, coincidentally right by the same canal.  Obviously, my thoughts have focused on this particular farm as an ideal location for locally-produced crops.  It may not come on the market anytime in the foreseeable future but there may be other local ones that do.

More the point, if you are a vegan, wherever you happen to live, keep a lookout for any farmland that comes up for sale and think about how you could maybe form a group of likeminded people to purchase it.  Bearing in mind that not many of us will not have sufficient finance to do so on our own.  Ignore the paranoia of meat-eaters, whilst recognising it is essential that crop-growing must be maintained in preference to laboratory-engineered processed ‘food’.  This is a genuine form of sustainability and doesn’t need a globalist agenda to dictate it.  Mainstream food supply will soon become contaminated with gene-edited and genetically modified crops, so the more of your own that you can grow the better.

Although this is not intended as a ‘Travel’ article, so I have not categorised it as such, if you were on the aqueduct looking roughly north-east, hence upriver along the Avon it forms the postal boundary between the two towns; upriver then passing under the A445 it continues to form that boundary.  The ‘green’ corridor itself as mentioned runs west to east from St Nicholas Park, Warwick, along the north side of the Avon (note that part of this can get quite muddy following wet weather), then under the aqueduct, to some steps which will then take you up to the towpath.  If you click on this link, you will find a map.  Following the towpath south-eastwards toward the A425 but not as far as it, there is a narrow footpath leading eastwards towards Leamington (to begin with you will will see the rail line connecting the two towns on your right down an embankment), that will eventually bring you out at the weir by Princes Drive.  Crossing the main road here will bring you into Victoria Park, under the rail viaduct, past the skatepark towards the bowling greens, walking along the south side of the Leam.  There is then a pedestrian tunnel to a footpath by a green area.  This leads towards a footbridge across the Leam into Pump Room Gardens, the site of the Eco Fest.

Disease Mania

I’ve spotted a few of the above stickers in Leamington Spa.  They are not mine, though I am not averse to using stickers on street furniture for getting a message across.  In fact I have done so to protest against all the authoritarian measures implemented under the pretext of the largest lettering on this sticker and some of the handiwork that I put up during the Autumn of 2020 and Winter of 2020/21 is still around.  There are a number of things that I dislike about the message on this sticker, mostly is that it is using fear to get the message across for a plant-based diet.  Rather than using a positive selling point, it is alarmist, so that it reads that if you don’t go plant-based, you’re gonna die!  After more than two and half years of continuous fearmongering in the mainstream media about COVID19 most of us are fed up with it.  It became obvious by the end of 2020 that the vast majority of fatalities attributed to COVID19 were from another primary cause or combination of them.  People whose health was already poor were finished off by a seasonal respiratory illness as happens every Winter and into early Spring.  Worse than that, many fatalities were fraudulently attributed to COVID19 on the basis of the person having had a PCR test up to 28 days beforehand but having died from a completely unrelated cause.

Secondly, this sticker claims that these are all ‘zoonotic diseases’ that are ‘caused by farming and eating animals’.  Stating farming would indicate that a proximity to animals is considered a risk, but there is no proof of this (and it would also extend to companion animals such as guide dogs, for which the training school is located in Leamington Spa, it being common to see the dogs walked around town by their human trainers).  Note that I am not advocating that farming animals is morally acceptable.  As a vegan I strongly oppose it, but I am uncomfortable with a message such as that on this sticker making unfounded claims.  It will create a backlash against a plant-based diet and hence against ethical and dietary veganism.  Incidentally, only an exclusively plant-based could be considered as vegan.  On the point regarding eating animals as a causative factor in those diseases, it makes good copy from the perspective of vegan propaganda, but there is no substantive proof.  Even most omnivores would recognise that drinking bat soup from a Chinese ‘wet market’ isn’t a great idea.

Moving on, HIV is not a disease, it is the virus that is attributed with causing AIDS, though not all people who are HIV positive go on to develop those symptoms; and there are people who develop the symptoms of AIDS without having been confirmed HIV positive.  However there is no proof that either HIV or AIDS bears any relationship to not having a plant-based diet.  Historically, the development of AIDS originated in the gay nightclub scenes in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles among regular clientele who took nitrite inhalents (poppers) and other recreational drugs, as well as otherwise being in poor nutrional health (which is where there is a dietary link).  AIDS has also developed among drug addicts sharing syringes, as per the film Trainspotting, set in the late 1980’s when Edinburgh had become the ‘AIDS capital of Europe’ for that reason.  The fearmongering associated with AIDS, a disease that I first heard of in 1984, when I was 17, has been utilised more recently with a certain Dr Anthony Fauci having been one of the principal villains then as now.  It was also in 1984 that Dr Luc Montagnier claimed to have ‘discovered’ HIV.

COVID19, for which a massive media campaign of fear has been built up since early in 2020 is a collective term for various strains, or ‘variants’ to use the recent parlance, of influenza which have been attributed to the SARS-COV2 virus.  As with all respiratory illnesses, including Swine Flu and Bird Flu, two ‘pandemics’ that weren’t, the major causes of disease are age and obesity.  Diet clearly plays a role in the latter and until recently one would expect that anyone with a plant-based diet would be at lower risk by virtue of having a BMI within the normal range, when in the British Isles (as per the USA) the majority of the population are overweight.  However, it has been noticeable throughout the COVID19 ‘pandemic’ that the major supermarket chains have each developed a range of plant-based processed foods as meat substitutes.  Read the labels of the ingredients on these and they are not necessarily healthy.  Their fat content and energy value may be comparable to the meat that they are intended to replace.  Similarly, as I put on a previous blog post, McDonald’s, Burger King and Krispy Kreme have moved into the ‘plant-based’ market, abetted by both the Vegetarian and Vegan Societies awarding their respective trademarks; for the Vegan Society its trademark is its largest annual source of income.

However, if one takes this sticker at face value, then an entirely plant-based diet would offer protection against these diseases; and if they are solely ‘caused by farming and eating animals’ then how can they then be contagious between humans?  Super-fit tennis champion Novak Djokovic has an entirely plant-based diet (though he doesn’t claim to be a vegan).  He has sensibly declined any of the pharmaceutical treatment, ‘vaccines’, on offer for COVID19 because he understands that for him it is an illness that poses a negligible risk and that the potential risk to his health from those pharmaceuticals far outweighs any benefit that could be derived from them; this is the case for everyone who keeps themselves fit, healthy, has no co-morbidities, is not already immuno-compromised and is roughly below the age of eighty.  The pharmaceutical treatment neither prevents infection from nor transmission of COVID19, which begs the question whether it and indeed other respiratory diseases are contagious.  This is a subject covered in the book Virus Mania referenced below.

On the subject of pharmaceutical treatment, the relevant industry is one that ethical vegans have long campaigned against due to its use for animals in experiments.  Even if a particular product has not been tested on animals prior to being tested on humans and if that product does not contain animal-derived ingredients, all the major pharmaceutical companies insist that they must retain the ‘right’ to do that.  The latest product for COVID19, a ‘booster’ that will have the completely opposite effect on the recipient’s immune system, has been tested on eight mice.  This hardly proves that it is either safe or effective to be used on people, only trials on human volunteers can do that and ideally the volunteers should be the researchers themselves or others in the allopathic medical industry who support the development of vaccines and other drugs.  The products are after all drugs intended to be taken on a seasonal basis.

It is plausible that some vegans who have voluntarily taken the pharmaceutical products for COVID19 may believe that by becoming experimental subjects themselves they are helping to prevent animal suffering, such that large-scale tests on humans will result in future tests on animals being scrapped.  If so, it displays a naively benevolent view towards the companies involved in the research, manufacturing and marketing of these vaccines / drugs.  However, normal drug testing usually involves three phases with human volunteers in any case and any vaccine or other drug needs to have successfully gone through these in order to gain approval, as I detailed in July 2021 on my old blog.  Note that those for COVID19 had not done so, but were implemented globally on the basis of a supposed ‘emergency’ that is not and never has been.  Because of this, there are people with authoritarian tendencies, including a great many who identify as ‘left-wing’ or ironically as ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’, who believe that everyone should be mandated to take the pharmaceutical treatment for COVID19.  Sorry to say that a lot of vegans fall into this category, which may be due to their having a collectivist (possibly statist) world-view, a belief that everyone is equally at risk, irrespective of pre-existing health and that the disease is contagious among and between vegan and non-vegans alike.  Given the ‘Protect the NHS’ message on this sticker, it wouldn’t surprise me if the person who has placed these stickers is one of those people.

Suggested reading:

Virus Mania – Torsten Engelbrecht, Dr Claus Claus Köhnlein, MD, Dr Samantha Bailey, MD and Dr Stefano Scaglio, BSc MD.  Independently Published, originally in September 2007, updated to include an additional chapter on Corona Mania, April 2021.

No Fear

To follow up a post from July, the Commonwealth Games Women’s and Men’s Cycle Road Races took place on Sunday 7th August around a 14 km circuit starting in Warwick, then out through the village of Hampton-on-the-Hill to the west of the town, back through Warwick and into the adjacent, western part, of Leamington Spa, then back to the start line in Warwick.  The women’s race which took place first was of seven laps of this circuit and the men’s of ten laps.  I found a good pitch to stand where Leamington merges back into Warwick about 1.5 km to 2 km from the end of each lap.  Although I took a few photos of the penultimate lap of the women’s road race, the motorcycle pillion rider was in the way, or the photo otherwise didn’t turn out that great.  What I like about the Commonwealth is that it is not Eurocentric, what I dislike is that it is a legacy of the British Empire.  It would be good if it could evolve into a set of countries competing without any imperial or monarchist links.

men's road race 2r

These photos then are from one of the early laps of the men’s road race.  As you can see from these photos, there was no anti-social distancing, no mask wearing, no fear; it was a perfect example of how a popular event takes place in a normally functioning society.  There were no vaccination requirements for entry to the UK for any of the competitors in any of the events, nor were there any requirements to show proof of vaccination status or a negative ‘Covid’ test to spectate at any of the events taking place inside any of the venues.  One of these venues in which the competition finished on Saturday 6th August, was the Royal Leamington Spa Bowls Club in Victoria Park, the opposite end of which abuts the main road that formed part of the cycle route.

After thirty months to ‘flatten the curve’ of a normal seasonal respiratory illness, which is and was never anything more than a blanket term for various strains, or ‘variants’ to use the current parlance, of influenza, it is long overdue that everyone stopped living in fear of that illness.  Because of the sharp rise in domestic electricity and gas prices that come into force on the 1st October that will justifiably be the major concern for almost everyone in the country, including presumably those in the medical profession, who continue to unethically push potentially lethal pharmaceutical toxins onto people whose respective immune systems have already been damaged by the previous doses.

Businesses in the ‘hospitality’ sector that zealously enforced the guidelines of temperature guns, mask wearing and Test and Trace will pay the price for their weakness in refusing to fight back against these measures when they were applicable.  The underlying cause of the high rate of price inflation in this country, which precedes the coming energy price rises, is due to the total economic cost of all the unnecessary ‘pandemic’ measures.  If we had all carried on as normal, old normal, real normal, thirty months ago, the vast majority of the population would be physically and mentally healthier.  The damage of the past thirty months can never be undone, but we must all belatedly come together and fight back as part of a damage limitation exercise to ensure that such draconian ‘pandemic’ measures are never re-introduced on any pretext.

warwick market place festival site

When it had only been three months to ‘flatten the curve’, extended from the original lie that it would only be three weeks, I took a photo of Warwick Market Place, where anti-social distancing had been put in place, with people obediently doing as told by a man in a high-viz jacket.  At this the stage the market wasn’t even taking cash in case of the supposed risk of ‘contamination’ with ‘the virus’.  This photo appears on the Afterword for my old blog.  Compare that to the above photo taken more than two years later of the same location during the Commonwealth Games, where a Festival Site had been arranged, with a large screen on which at the time that I took this the Women’s T20 Cricket from Edgbaston was being shown.  This was also taken on the market day of Saturday (6th August) as some of the stalls can be seen on the right.  No Fear.

Eco Fest

On the first Saturday of September an ‘Eco Fest’ takes place in the Pump Room Gardens in Leamington Spa town centre.  I mentioned this on a previous post in relation to last year’s event.  Three weeks prior to that is Art in the Park, across the road at Jephson Gardens, whilst a week after the Eco Fest is the omnivorous Leamington Food Festival, usually over both days of the weekend, but this year only on the Sunday.  All of these events are free for anyone wandering around visiting as many stalls as they want and it was good to see that, in a welcome return to normality, there was not a single person, amongst the stallholders or visitors, wearing a face mask.  Of the three, the Eco Fest is the least busy having less of a feeling of being an event, as such.  It feels more like various campaigners who already know each other just meeting up in a public place.

I attended Art in the Park on the Saturday morning on what was to develop into a very warm day.  One of the caterers present was the locally-based Fresh Rootz veggie and vegan street foods, who do festivals throughout the Midlands.  They were at the time just setting up for the day, so if I’d visited a couple of hours later I’d have bought something to eat.  As it was, it was a bit early to feel hungry anyway.  Talking to one of them, he had said that they had booked to do Eco Fest, but on the day, they weren’t there, which is a shame.  Absent from the Eco Fest, but present at the Food Festival, was a stall from the Bearley Vineyard, Warwickshire wines, some of which are vegan.  This success of this business is a testament to how climate change can be beneficial.

Another stall that surprisingly wasn’t there, was the campaign against HS2, although that campaign has been running for several years and the stall was there last year.  I must emphasise that I am not opposed to high-speed rail in principle, but as I put on my long blog post last year, HS2 simply doesn’t have a viable business case and the reason for the campaign against it, which isn’t merely a local one, is due to the huge ecological damage that it has caused.  As its London terminus is planned for Euston, it won’t even fulfil the role of providing a connection, let alone a through service, with HS1 (Eurostar) at St Pancras.  So its effect on reducing the level of air travel to and from continental Europe will be negligible if at all.

pump room gardens 2022 eco fest 2

So now that I have emphasised stalls that I expected to be there, but weren’t, I should mention which stalls were there, one being for Foundry Wood, a local nature reserve.  This is a small, approximately triangular, piece of land on former railway sidings to the west of Leamington Spa rail station, where the lines to Coventry and Solihull diverge.  To the south of the Solihull line was the site of the former Ford Foundry, hence the name given to the wood, which I have wandered round a couple of times.  It is free to access, though tends to be aimed at schools and other groups.

Adjacent to this was a stall for Achieving Results in Communities, an organisation to support mental health by spending time in nature, so Foundry Wood would be one of the nature reserves on its itinerary.  And next to that was Canalside Community Food, located a few miles east of the town just off the main road to Southam.  It is a local agriculture scheme to provide organic produce, but having enquired about it last year, I understand that there is long waiting list to join, which suggests the demand for an additional project perhaps located to the west of Warwick.  The need exists in particular for people living in shared rented accommodation and/or who do not have a garden at home that can be used, or an allotment.

In the photo above is the stall for Cycleways, a local cycling group for Warwick, Leamington Spa and Kenilworth, whose main project at present is in campaigning for a safe cycle route between the latter two towns.  It was at this stall that I spent the most time, although living in Warwick that particular project is of less interest to me than other issues that I discussed with the bloke running it.  In particular I discussed with him, the lack of a designated safe cycle route to Stratford and he agreed with me that from a tourism perspective it could be a good selling point; and how HS2 will impact cycle routes between Kenilworth and Coventry as the route, for which works are ongoing, slices straight through the small rural gap between the two, close to the University of Warwick’s main campus.

pump room gardens 2022 eco fest 11

As you can see from the photos, the grass was parched by the dry July and August weather, as per what has become normal over the past couple of decades (though not fifteen years ago when there was serious flooding during the summer).  In general and it is only that, throughout much of central and southern England, winters have become milder and wetter whilst summers have become warmer and drier.  The milder winters mean lower consumption of fossil fuels are required for heating; and that among elderly people trying to manage on the state pension, there are fewer deaths from hypothermia, yet this supposedly represents a ‘crisis’.  Those who believe in the ‘hockey stick’ hypothesis of runaway, ever increasing temperatures, peddle the notion that it is a catastrophic ’emergency’.  This view has permeated the state sector including those local councils such as Warwick and Stratford-on-Avon Districts, which are run by the Tories.  As such these people want to impose draconian restrictions on travel, maybe even embracing the totalitarian notion of ‘Smart Cities’ as part of a ‘green’ agenda.

As Warwick District Council has granted planning permission for thousands of new houses on what was until recently arable farmland or meadowland, then its ‘climate emergency’ propaganda should be treated with extreme scepticism; one such large housing estate being on Chase Meadow, a flood plain on the west side of Warwick near to the racecourse.  Even prior to the Lockdowns of 2020 & 2021, there were empty surpluses of both retail and office space in the district, the sites for which should have been first been considered for housing.  As it is now, you can take a short stroll from Pump Room Gardens and see numerous empty shops, in many of which the doorway is occupied by someone who is homeless.  The housing needs of these people just get ignored.  Warwick District Council has also granted planning permission, without public consultation, for numerous 5G installations, conveniently overlooking the electrical power that they consume (as well as the potential health risks from the high frequency electromagnetic radiation).

At last year’s Eco Fest, I spoke to the bloke from Warwick District Council who was there to answer queries about recycling, so I asked why the recycling bins had been removed from Victoria Park.  He said that he wasn’t aware of this but that it must have been due to the council’s contractor idverde complaining that the wrong type of litter had been disposed in them.  Bear in mind that with the council being Tory-run, it has been outsourced (just like domestic refuse collections have been).  It was and remains only in that park that the recycling bins have been removed, which by coincidence is closest to the council’s recycling facility at Princes Drive, accessible only to motorists, although the re-use shop is available to pedestrians.  He agreed with me that a car should not be needed to access those recycling facilities, though there has been no change to that.

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This year one of the busiest stalls was for Warwick District Council explaining its new convoluted 1-2-3 household refuse disposal system, for which the garden waste collection has to be paid for by a separate subscription, but of course without any commensurate reduction in Council Tax, that still increased.  It could lead to an increased level of garden waste being fly-tipped, the cost of removal being borne by all householders by feeding into next year’s Council Tax increase.  Although from a ‘green’ perspective it is better to compost your own garden waste and the council will sell to you a container to do so, what grates about this separate charge for garden waste removal is that it may well be the first of many separate charges for different services without the basic Council Tax level being reduced accordingly.  It is a sign of how privileged and out-of-touch council officials are that they can consider doing this and against a backdrop of falling disposal household incomes due to an inflationary recession.  Incidentally, the new refuse disposal system meant that every household received a new plastic wheelie bin (to add to two existing ones), plus a plastic caddy for disposal of food waste; and best of all a non-recyclable plastic leaflet explaining how the new system would ‘protect the environment and help tackle climate change’.

An alternative view of the climate and one that I hold is that it is part of a natural long-term cycle, temperatures having been just as warm in medieval times.  Climate change does require better water management, meaning that the privatised water companies need to do what they have failed to do over the past few decades, which is to invest in new reservoirs (in disused gravel pits for example) and drastically reduce the rate of leakage in the pipes, replacing these as needed as part of a regular capital investment programme.  It is ironic that some people on the political left seek to blame ‘climate change’ for what they know is lack of investment as a symptom of a privatisation that should never have happened in the first place.  Climate change could also mean crop diversification, including in southern England the cultivation of fruits such as apricots, avocados, dates and figs, oranges and satsumas which are currently imported from Mediterranean countries.  I view this, from a vegan dietary perspective, as an opportunity, not a ‘catastrophe’.  Palm trees along the southern English coast would also mean a primate-friendly source of palm oil.

It is not just from the photo immediately below but from other stalls such as that for the ‘Just Stop Oil’ group, that to me being well into middle age, I realised that most of the campaigners were of similar age or older.  You might say that this is just a normal reflection of political activism.  ‘Climate’ activists are also drawn predominantly from among the office-based, or for the past two and a half years working from home, professional middle class, the socio-economic group who most strongly supported ‘Covid’ lockdowns, for reasons of self-interest.  It would therefore be unsurprising if demands for ‘climate’ lockdowns come from some of the same people, whom in my observation developed a gated community mentality during the Spring of 2020, relying on home deliveries from amongst the ‘lower orders’, whose opinions they consider to be of lesser value.

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I find it disturbing that people of my generation or older want, in the name of a so-called ‘climate emergency’, to restrict the lives of younger people in terms of travel and lifestyle.  These campaigners could well be, like myself, people who have had the opportunity to travel around Europe and the wider world, yet selfishly they want to stop younger people doing the same.  Ironically these campaigners, if they align with the Green Party view, will have voted Remain in the 2016 campaign on the European Union.  If they did so to ensure ‘freedom of movement’ then they are hypocrites.  How do the Millennial generation, for whom a Remain vote was overwhelmingly about freedom of movement around Europe, feel about this?  These Millennials have become accustomed to travelling to and from continental Europe by budget airline (as my generation used a Young Person’s Railcard to get around Britain), so climate change cannot be one their major concerns.

Also, the pro-Remain Green Party know full well that at least a million Britons reside in the European Union, mostly – and a higher proportion of them retirees – in warmer climes than Blighty.  The pro-Remain Green Party are also well aware that many of these people have relied on budget air travel for their journeys to and from Britain; and that Polish and other Eastern European migrant workers have done the same, Thomsonfly for example used to have scheduled services between Coventry’s small airport that lies just to the south of the city (hence easily accessible for Leamington’s Polish community) and Katowice.  Thomsonfly also used to operate scheduled budget services between Coventry and Pisa, Nice and Valencia, therefore enabling people who have neither the money nor the time to make the more expensive overland journey to visit these places.  Whilst from a sustainable perspective the overland journey would be preferable, I get the impression from many ‘Greens’ that for reasons of class snobbery, disguised as ‘climate activism’ they would prefer that the lumpen proletariat should not be permitted to travel abroad.

It was during that rather soggy English summer of 2007, that I spent a holiday in British Columbia, which of course involved getting flights between Heathrow and Vancouver.  Just north of Vancouver I visited the Wildlife Refuge at Grouse Mountain, where amongst other creatures, two orphaned grizzly bears are cared for, though they do have a very large area in which they can roam.  I also went whale watching in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, off the coast of Vancouver Island, near the maritime boundary with Washington State.  The boats keep sufficiently far away from the whales so as not to distress them.  I still have the photos and film footage I took with a zoom lens; and of course I have the memories.  Where I stayed in the provincial capital of Victoria I had a meal at Green Cuisine, which at the time was one of the best vegan restaurants that I had ever visited.  I would not peddle scare stories of a supposed ‘climate crisis’ to deny anyone younger than I am the right to travel that far (though my holiday was long before Canada was ruled by the fascist ‘liberal’ regime led by Justin Trudeau).

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In the middle of the Eco Fest was an electric vehicle.  Labour and environmental concerns have already been voiced about the mining of cobalt for the batteries for these electric cars.  Even the Guardian will address the former, though sidesteps the latter issue.  Notwithstanding these very important issues, a grid supply or maybe just a diesel generator if off-grid, is still required to charge these up.  So are electric vehicles just a massive ‘green’ con?  In urban environments, it means the elimination of emissions from internal combustion engines.  But the salient issue is that the point of pollution is just moved elsewhere.  And whatever ‘green’ campaigners may like to believe, photovoltaic cells and wind turbines cannot supply all the electric power required by the national transmission grid.  Some people may argue that getting rooftop solar panels and a wind turbine in their back garden will do the trick, but not on those winter days of short daylight and which are genuinely cold with freezing fog, due to there being anticyclone over the country, hence not a breath of wind.

On the subject of power supplies Eon, a German-owned company which is one of the Big Five privatised energy supply cartel, had a stall.  Its British Head Office is about ten miles up the road at Westwood Heath Business Park on the south-west edge of Coventry.  Its stall had a sign stating: Are you worried about the rising cost of energy bills?  We are here to help.  I didn’t approach the stall because it was clearly a public relations exercise staffed most likely by people who had been hired for the day.  Even if they were salaried staff, I expect that the message would have been to get a ‘smart meter’.  Or perhaps the obvious, such as get better insulation for your home if Eon or any energy supplier can help with that.  Rooftop solar panels, facing south obviously?  Fine during the summer, but not much help during the winter.  Meanwhile the music from the bandstand was electrically amplified and not a solar panel in sight.

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There were some stalls that were unrelated to ecology or ‘green’ issues, one such being that for Veterans’ Support Group, another for the local Primary Care Network; others being for yoga, fitness, including that from the company that runs the council-owned gyms in Warwick District (a service outsourced by the council four years ago) as well as some local craft and food stalls, the only vegan offering being confectionery.  Political stalls included one called ‘One World Link’ and one for a local support group for the United Nations, a globalist organisation, which far from being innocuous has long since been corrupted, now being in partnership with the World Economic Forum to implement the totalitarian Agenda 2030.

Adjacent to that stall and also being run by people at least in their sixties, who presumably joined a long time ago with good intentions, was that for the former human rights organisation Amnesty International; I stress former as it has failed to oppose lockdowns, vaccine mandates and all the other tyrannical measures introduced under the guise of ‘Covid’.  Amnesty International has become a disgusting organisation, peddling the Agenda 2030 message of ‘fair access’ to toxic pharmaceuticals but refusing to defend the human right to decline these without loss of employment or otherwise being excluded from society as is being done by the fascist Trudeau regime in Canada.  I am pleased to say that its stall certainly wasn’t busy!

Plant Power

I first discovered the location of the Plantarium Café in Stratford-upon-Avon during the four-week, unjustified to state the obvious, Lockdown in November 2020.  A photo taken then can be found here.  I had made the journey to that town ten miles down the road for the first time that year to see what the effects of the Lockdowns had been, detailing these on my old blog.  Not surprisingly, for a town with a high economic dependence on visitors, the effects were onerous in terms of the number of empty shops with To Let signs on.  The loss of the 2020 summer tourist season, together with the forced closure of not just the Shakespeare heritage sites, but the Royal Shakespeare Company itself, meant the loss of passing trade.  Furloughing the staff on full pay wasn’t enough to keep the businesses viable.  Hospitality establishments will have experienced the same, those which survived having to re-establish their customer base.

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I visited once last year when the café was allowed to be take-away only.  Thankfully the idiotic guideline about mask wearing was not enforced, nor was Test and Trace; if either had been then I wouldn’t have bought anything.  My most recent visit was the first time that I have experienced the business functioning fully and properly.  As it was a warm sunny day then I sat outside in an area that has a pleasant ambience to it, located in The Minories, a pedestrianised lane of independent businesses, easily accessible from Meer Street and the very touristy Henley Street.  I’m not usually in the habit of photographing what I intend to eat, but as I had my trusty fifteen-year old camera with me, then I thought, why not?  I could use the photos as part of a review for this blog.  I purchased a Mexican Tofu Salad for ten quid in cash and it was very nice, wholesome, bigger and more filling than I had expected.

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So long as the business is permitted to trade as normal, old normal, real normal, pre-March 2020 normal, then I shall visit again and would recommend it to anyone reading this post who is planning to go to Stratford, even if only for a day-trip.  Note that the café is only about ten minutes’ walk from the station which is located just off the Alcester Road, on the way out of town.  There is a small seating area downstairs if you prefer, rather than sitting outside and there is also advertised a seating area upstairs that I intend to try sometime.   Maybe even some anti-vegans could be persuaded to eat here when they realise that it provides a good wholesome meal at a fair price, for a town where the hospitality trade generally charges tourist prices.

Although the tofu salad that I had was probably about as ‘Mexican’ as I am, it must contain some imported ingredients, as do a great many vegan meals.  Thus us would be incompatible with the ‘Net Zero’ ideology, beloved of many ‘Greens’, which seeks to restrict international trade (as well as international travel for the plebs, such as the many thousands of tourists upon which Stratford’s economy depends).  This ‘Net Zero’ ideology is one of the underlying causes of Britain’s fuel shortage, that is pushing domestic energy bills to an unaffordably high level and business energy bills even higher.  So numerous independent cafés and restaurants are going to struggle to pay their fuel bills from 1st of October.  If this lunatic policy of ‘Net Zero’ is not abandoned, then there may be Net Zero vegan cafés and restaurants left in this country.