Banking for the future

An amazing thing is happening all over the world and the ongoing results are right on my doorstep. What is it? It’s the Millennium Seed Bank.

This is what they are doing:

The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is the largest ex situ plant conservation programme in the world. Our focus is on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future. The seeds we save are conserved in seed banks as an insurance against the risk of extinction in their native habitat.

Working with our network of partners across 80 countries, we have successfully banked over 13% of the world’s wild plant species. With your help, we are going to save 25% of those species with bankable seeds by 2020 (75,000 species). We target plants and regions most at risk from the ever-increasing impact of human activities, including land use and climate change.

The Seed Bank is located at Wakehurst Place, a National Trust property in Ardingly, West Sussex, just 15 minutes from my home. Here’s a view from outside and inside.

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Inside you can watch a welcome video explaining the work of the Seed Bank and then you can walk around the building watching the seeds being worked on by very serious looking people behind glass windows.

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You learn that seeds come in all shapes and sizes from this wall display to seeing the actual seeds they are working on right now.

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You can follow their journey from being collected in bags like these  in all corners of the world and then how you can help save a species.

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You learn how energy is used in the building and why.

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You can even discover who has been learning here this week. Imagine coming on a school trip here and seeing science in action, helping to save our planet, how inspiring for young people.

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It’s a great visit, make time next time you are in the area or follow this link for more information Millennium Seed Bank

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The small things matter

What comes to mind when you think about Hong Kong? Probably the skyline with its skyscrapers of all shapes and sizes, or the harbour and the myriad of boats that sail through and across it; or is it The Peak and its famous tram or the Big Buddha and the cable car that first come to mind? These are undoubtably all wonderful and much loved symbols that show off our city, but take a closer look and you will find hidden gems tucked away, some unique to Hong Kong, others that can be seen around the world varying only to reflect the culture where they are found.

Just before we left Hong Kong to go back to the UK, I set up a Facebook page called Bitesize Hong Kong. I love taking photographs either with my very precious Nikon or just my iPhone. I wanted to capture the small things that had transformed my view of Hong Kong from the tourist board images that we are all familiar with to the small things I passed daily or came across unexpectedly and turned the city into my home.

Of course my project stumbled, why wouldn’t it? An international move in four stages with my family going to two different continents took just a bit more of my time than even super-organised me allowed for! However, I’ve been back in the UK for almost eight months now and I have some mental space to think about resurrecting my page. I’ve decided to set some time aside each week to go through my thousands of photos from the last 12 years and share some of them on my page and by extension with you, dear reader. I hope you enjoy them and come to know MY Hong Kong. 

The link below should take you to the page, please feel free to LIKE it or comment.

https://www.facebook.com

Here’s me about to go through immigration leaving Hong Kong for the last time (until the next time of course)…!

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An English spring

After all the rain and storms that lashed the UK in January and February, March has us all jumping up and down with glee because the sun has arrived and spring has sprung. I walked in to our village this morning and took a few photos.  After 12 years in evergreen Hong Kong, the bloom of an English spring has made a big impact on me and I feel full of the proverbial joys of the season.

Now if I could only get that pair of wood pigeons that are courting in my garden and showing off their finery to stay still and pose for a photo, my day would be made!

 

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School run

So I’ve gone from a 10 minute drive from home to school in Hong Kong to a three hour drive in the UK from leafy Sussex to wet Somerset. Thankfully the kids are in boarding school so it’s not a daily drive especially as I have to negotiate the constantly busy M25 around London.

With the recent storms that have hit the South of England, it was always on the cards that one journey would be disrupted by the flooding. The road from Stonehenge to Street was closed and we were diverted via some smaller B roads which, unsurprisingly were also suffering because of the excess water. The white line of sandbags in the first photo shows how close we were to having our alternative route closed too.

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Thankfully it had stopped raining when we drove back a couple of weeks later after the half term holiday and it was a delight to see fields full of sheep with swollen bellies ready to lamb and even a few early lambs in the fields although they were so small they didn’t come out well in the photos. The Stonehenge road was open again so we were also able to enjoy the pigs in the opposite fields still wallowing in their preferred mud but at least they could leave off their wellies this time!

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I shall be going over to school next weekend and am looking forward to spotting some daffodils, snowdrops and crocus’ and watching as bare trees start to come back to life after the long winter. What a joy to be back in the UK for spring.