Archive for August, 2012

20 Aug 2012

2012: It Really Has Been a Different Summer

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The exquisite peacock butterfly

Forgive the hint of smugness, but having been away from the blogsphere for a couple of weeks, re-reading my last post – The Olympics and their Legacy – brought a self-satisfied smile this morning.

So, for the next couple of weeks, let’s put aside the many negatives about the London games and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Olympics at close range. Let’s support our amazing athletes…..

Well, it’s not often that you get what you hope for, but even the most curmudgeonly critic of London 2012 would have to admit the games far exceeded all expectations: the mind-blowing opening ceremony; the medal count; the marvellous volunteers; the non-materialisation of the expected transport meltdown; even the change in atmosphere in and around the capital itself.

Team GB’s cyclists proved once and for all that they are the best on the planet and the continued dominance of Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy, Laura Trott and co has intensified the debate about how we can translate their success into encouraging more of our population to take to their bikes, not just in the velodrome, or the time trial, but everyday in every way, in our towns, cities and villages.

Of course, the idea of success leads inexorably to legacy and for the past week we have witnessed the inevitable, but unedifying, spectacle of politicians and other interest groups jockeying to see who can claim most credit for, and benefit from, the success of the games. Well, all sides can throw around statistics for their own advantage, but it’s pretty obvious that if you sell off playing fields, scrap the minimum requirement for PE and abolish the School Sports Partnership, then you are hardly improving your chances of fostering the next Jessica Ennis, or Mo Farah.

And the same applies, of course to cyclists and pedestrians (runners and walkers) because if conditions are deemed too difficult/dangerous to travel on foot or by bike, then you are far less likely to encourage future generations to leave their computers and take to the great outdoors.

Only time will tell if success at 2012 will generate a more holistic approach and consideration for those who use their own power to travel our roads, streets and paths. But it’s essential we keep up the pressure and continue to lobby. Why not start with a full-on advertising campaign showing the benefits of having Bradley, Jessica, Laura, Jason, Mo as our role models, rather than some bloated, paunchy petrol heads, like Clarkson and his gang? Indeed, what about challenging the Top Gear adolescents to ride down the Marin Trail (I suppose they would need to be winched to the top), or round the Velodrome? That should satisfy their speed obsession.

 

So, with the Olympics over, what now for what little remains of the summer? When still in my day job, I always disliked this time of year: the dog days of summer; fading blooms and colour; the obvious signs of encroaching autumn along with the dreaded return to work. This year, however, it’s been a bit different: the first week in September will not mark another new term, but the longed-for opportunity to attempt the West Highland Way.

A rare visit from a red admiral

But, in other ways this mid-August seems a bit different from usual. The end of constant Olympic TV watching has coincided with one of the best weeks, weather-wise of the summer. And, while usually our flora looks rather tired by now, the appalling weather in early summer has resulted in some luscious, late flowering colour in our hedgerows and gardens. So the buddleia, usually over and done with by late July, is still attracting a flutter of peacock butterflies and the odd red admiral. And, as long as we don’t have any sharp, early frosts, we should be enjoying fruits and berries well into the autumn. You never know, if last year is anything to go by, we might just be rewarded with summer then as well.

Fingers crossed for some clear weather on the way to Fort William and, please no rain over Rannoch. Will tweet the pics where and when I can.

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