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Please don’t tiptoe through our bluebells

It turns out people who are trying to get the perfect photo of a bluebell are in danger of killing them off. The UK woodlands are home to approximately 50% of the world’s population of bluebells, which are incredibly delicate and beautiful flowers. Cumbernauld’s wildlife reserves, including Cumbernauld Glen, Seafar Wood and Luggiebank, feature dazzling displays of these plants, which have taken centuries to colonise in our town through a symbiotic relationship with ancient oak woodlands. Walking off the paths puts our native bluebell at risk of being destroyed by trampling. Cumbernauld Living Landscape has held a number of bluebell walks over the years. During these events I always have to regularly remind people not to walk off the path. These bluebells are vitally important plants for pollinators especially when during the false starts to spring that we have experienced here in recent years. Certain plants can shut off systems if a leaf of branch is broken, diseased or cut, this isn’t the case with our native bluebell. Damage sustained is damage retained. While this may sound like a soundbite

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Mindfulness matters

If the recipe for happiness was made of very simple things then one of the ingredients for happiness could well be a plain ‘thank you’. More and more studies confirm that showing gratitude in any shape or form increases our level of happiness. One doesn’t need to be religious or to pray as such for it to work. This thank you doesn’t even need to be directed at anybody. It can just be a simple thought acknowledging an appreciation for something in our everyday life. It might be someone’s nice words or smile, a beautiful flower in someone’s garden, or an attractive photo in a magazine. Anything at all! According to recent research, being grateful on a regular basis, can boost your physical and mental health, strengthen relationships, and help us to keep disciplined and focused. A good time to do is in the evening before bedtime. Think of anything positive in your life and say thank you. Sometimes it is a struggle to find something. During some recent training with the Mindfulness Association, we were given an exercise to

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As Above Better Below

The sound of the motorway thunders in my ears and I imagine the cars moving up and down it. What are all those people thinking about as they drive past? Are they marvelling at the road itself, this miracle of human engineering?  Oh the wonders above, but what about the wonders below? I chuckle as I move through the woods, wondering how many people know about the badger highway I’m currently following…I step on a branch and something rustles nearby, I look through the leaves of a beech tree to find a confused deer looking back at me. The roe stares for a moment, then as the wind drifts my distinctive aroma towards him, his head snaps up, he catches my scent  – and bye bye buckie! I think again how without Cumbernauld Living Landscape I would never have found or known or cared about what beauty simply lay at my front door. I think back to 6 months ago of that deep dark place I was in but force the thought away and take a deep breath and smile. I

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From the mouths of babes

I’ve been asked many times if I think that conservation has a future. There are some environmental issues that aren’t always clear cut, and at times it can be difficult to express the benefits of protecting our environment due to background noise. Additional pressures from large companies who lobby politicians to curb environmental protections for the benefit of the economy, often only look at their needs and requirements and not the big picture. Their arguments tend to be one sided without consideration for the negative impact they have on the natural world. And then a young girl speaks up and does the impossible. The whole world is talking about Greta Thunburg. At the age of 15 this young girl decided to hold a strike one Friday afternoon outside the Swedish Parliament to get politicians to listen and take action to mitigate climate change. They are not the only ones listening, this one young girl’s action has created a movement around the world. Arguably, this one young girl has done more in the past few months than any politician or scientist

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Why are we creating natural connections in Cumbernauld?

Many of you know that I have grown up in Cumbernauld. My family moved out here when I was only seven, and to me the open fields around Westfield were just heaven. I would walk for hours following butterflies and rabbits, exploring the old farm fields, hedgerows and woodlands. Things have changed in so many ways now. I am older for a start, and those green fields and woods have given way to progressive urbanisation. I see deer and foxes occasionally but there are fewer butterflies to chase and no rabbits anymore. What I don’t see is young people exploring the parks and woodlands as I once did. Children’s connections to nature have diminished to the point that we even have a term for it -Nature Deficit Disorder. So… what are we going to do to turn this around? For a start Creating Natural Connections is going back to the primary schools to deliver a new suite of workshops, which will be linked to the major habitat works creating a connection for children to nature and the habitats in their

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Earlier signs of spring

When did you see your first snowdrop? The first Wild Ways Well group of the year was out in the middle of January and we were lucky to see them already! Apparently, the dingle-dangles didn’t use to flower before February during the 1950s and 1960s. This leads us to reflect about the climate changing around us. We hear about big weather disasters in other countries, we worry about the polar bears and we might feel vulnerable in the face of the floods happening in our country. I find this all a little bit head-spinning. However, as much as I love looking at the bigger picture, I find it also very useful to zoom in and look at my own situation. It is really something to acknowledge one’s own potential for power. As Gandhi said, “the ocean has no existence if the drop has not”.  I am always inspired by people’s courage and ingenuity. We all have a role and an effect on our planet, our environment, our community and our family. We can be the little drop that is part

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Autumn is a time of change

I love autumn. We get to see the trees and plants prepare themselves for winter by drawing down the energy they have spent spring and summer creating. This energy transfers back to the roots, discarding the leaves once it is reabsorbed. It is this process which gives us the multi-coloured hues of autumn. Autumn reminds me of childhood days spend watching the rain pelt the windows, wrapped up all cosy in a duvet. I would think about how the blankets of leaves on the ground in their yellows, oranges and reds would act like a blanket for the roots of the plants, keeping them snug and warm during the cold winter months. I was at university with a student from overseas who came to Scotland to experience this season. He’d never seen autumnal changes and thought a semester in Scotland would be just the job. He wasn’t wrong, but he hadn’t realised that in Scotland we often experience all four seasons in one day! Here in Cumbernauld we are incredibly lucky to have so many beautiful woodlands where you can

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Wild Ways Well Blog – A good moan about depression!

Yes, I am one of these types who do not like being taken for a moaner… I caught myself adding ‘but it’s all good’ or ‘everything will be fine’ after each negative comment I make! Ah yes, because I subconsciously assume that nobody wants to hear some negative comments about my life. Nobody would like to be friend if I am negative! Ultimately, I would be rejected… I guess there is a bit of truth in that… And that is why it is so, so hard to come out of depression… Recently, I have been in touch with my friend A. who helped someone who was in a difficult situation. B. was a very intelligent and creative man who had recently landed in Britain and was looking for a job and accommodation. A. helped him out by putting him up for a few months. B. had been suffering from poor mental health for years and eventually admitted that he could not go on like this (he attempted suicide a few times). Not wanting to resort to anti-depressants or to visit

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Take a closer look

The spate of heavenly weather we have been having makes getting out for a walk all the more pleasant. Feeling the sun warm on your face and enjoying the tiniest of breezes is pure heaven! On a recent walk I thought I would see how many wildflowers I could spot, to give me a feel for what creating more meadows through our new Cumbernauld Living Landscape initiative can do. I walked, I immediately started to spot the wildflowers growing in amongst the buttercups and grasses. As I listed off the number of wildflowers I could see, I was amazed to count at least 40 different species. But when I said to a fellow canine personal trainer “isn’t the meadow looking lovely?” the reply came in a questionable tone, “what the buttercups?” I spoke of all the different wildflowers I had come across and my dog walking compatriot thought I was nuts. Challenge accepted! I took her for a walk through the meadow and started to show her the different flowers – she was stunned, so I was happy! Because the

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Natural Connections – A great effort at awards

Left to right Provost Jim Leighton MBE, me, Gemma CLL Community Engagement Assistant CJS, Doreen Tesco Community Champion and William our first ever Nature Ninja volunteer

Last Thursday a group of participants in the Cumbernauld’s Bloomin’ Wild attended the Beautiful Scotland award in Dunfermline coordinated by Keep Scotland Beautiful.  It was a fantastic day with people from all over Scotland celebrating what make their place special.  These awards are a way of recognising hard work and determination, mostly carried out by volunteers, to improve parks, reserves, business districts and residential gardens.  Read on to find out how Cumbernauld's Bloomin' Wild got on.