There are some mistakes in the May VRG newsletter, available online and, for Carron Valley residents, landing on your doormat imminently. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers and contact details.
We want you to get snapping in the home, garden and (correctly) out and about.
Four prizes of £20 for best picture in each age group and category Four prizes of £10 runners up in each age group and category Two prizes of £15 for most humorous picture in each category.
Two age groups: 1) 16 and and younger when photo was taken; 2) 17 and ove.
Two categories: 1) Capturing the season; 2) Capturing lock-down Entrants can interpret these categories as imaginatively as they like!
Entries by email only to email@example.com – Individuals can submit one photo to each category plus one humorous photo for each category – Each photo should be identified by age group, category and have a caption – Entrants should also provide name, email and home address (for prizes!) – Submission deadline: midnight, 12 June 2020
Open to any resident and family members living in Carron Valley & District – Photos can be taken taken on any image capturing gadget: cameras & [hones – Post-processing not expected, but not precluded – File format: JPEG – File size: aim not to exceed 12 Mb per photo
Judging will be done anonymously and impartially – Photographer retains copyright, while the organisers will have right to use photos in community focused outlets (Facebook, website, newsletter)
The competition is run by the Carron Valley and District Cvirus Community Support Group and prizes are provided from the Falck grant fund administered by Valley Renewables Group
A small number of further orders for fruit trees and bushes have been coming in and on 24th April, ten apple trees, a damson, six raspberry bushes and three dozen strawberry plants were collected from Andrew Lear and distributed, observing Covid-19 precautions, to five residents.
A fruit crusher and press have been reserved at the Transitions Tool Library for the weekend of 16-17 October for the autumn Apple Day and we hope to have plenty of fruit to crush and juice.
The Carron Valley Support Group have been given free use of an audio conference bridge during weekday evenings and all weekend during the virus situation.
Bridge Booker – contact:
What is an audio conferencing bridge?
It is a telephone system that allows groups of people to talk together. So three, four, five or even more people can all be together on the same phone call at the same time hearing what each person is saying and being able to speak with the group at the same time.
Why would I need to use an audio conference bridge – I have Skype / Facetime / Zoom already?
You probably don’t need to use the bridge – but who do you know who doesn’t have Skype / Facetime / Zoom who may find it useful to keep in touch with their friends and family? They probably still have a telephone landline, they may well have a mobile phone, that they use to keep in touch.
So how could the conference bridge be useful?
1) Do you meet regularly once a week or once a month with a couple of friends for a coffee in town?
You can keep these meetings going – just provide your own coffee (&cake) in your house but dial into the bridge at a pre-arranged time and take half an hour or an hour for a chat.
2) Do you want the whole family to sing happy birthday to granny in a big choir?
Get someone in the family to be the “choir master”. Get the family ready to all be on the bridge at the same time and date – the choir master may wish to have a practice singing session using the bridge a day or two before – like any family gathering it could descend into chaos so its best to be organised. Pick a time that suits everybody and when you know granny is available for her birthday call. Gather the choir members on the bridge and then ask granny to dial the number to join the bridge. Do a countdown and then start the round of “Happy Birthday…” and then do individual best wishes in turn.
3) I’m sure you can think of other examples – how about a game of virtual badminton? With some creative improvisation it should be possible.
4) What about gathering all the far flung cousins from across the world together? If you can dial a United Kingdom Glasgow number you can be on the bridge. (Please be aware your cousins may have to pay call charges for dialing a UK number from Australia or Canada
How do I access the bridge?
Pick a date and time for your event
Count how many people are going to dial in from their different locations Get in touch with the “Bridge Booker” who can confirm if we can accommodate the date/time and number of people you want at your event – or suggest an alternate selection of other dates and times that are available. The Bridge Booker will give you a Glasgow phone number and a six digit password which should be followed by the # character, that you need to type into your phone when prompted – you will then be in the call.
What else do I need to know?
Because the bridge can be used by people dialing in rather than connecting via the internet it can be more reliable for voice calls. Sometimes the internet struggles and voice calls can be a bit distorted or stop-go.
To make the most of the call make sure you do not leave any TVs or radios on in the background. Mobile phones near landline can cause noisy interference so move the mobile phones away – the further the better. If possible move to a quiet room for the call, or ask people to be quiet during the call. If you have a mute button on your handset use it, this is particularly useful if there are a lot of people on the call and you are waiting your turn – remember to un-mute when you want to speak! Try and agree in advance on one individual being appointed to co-ordinate the call – they can stop it descending into noisy chaos. They should prompt each person in turn to make their contribution, and if there is silence when someone was asked to contribute ask them to double check they have un-muted.
If you enjoyed your call – why not book another catch up next week…..?
Calling all bread makers and bakers – seems the supermarket shelves are still bare.
We can access supplies of flour -please spread the word as before and let us know via the VRG Contact page as to what you are looking for – white bread flour, brown bread flour, plain flour or self-raising flour – and how many kilos you want.
Do you have skills or equipment you would be willing to share with your community? We are putting together a ‘Resource Register’ for the Carron Valley and District.
Obviously at present the priority is that we all adhere to social distancing guidelines and remain at home wherever possible. But for the future we think such a register would be an asset to the community.
Perhaps you have a piece of equipment which you only use infrequently that you would be willing to loan to a neighbour?
Or do you have a skill or knowledge that you would be happy to share? Do you have counselling or coaching skills that could ease anxiety or the worries of folk whether children, adults or the more elderly? Could you chat to someone on their own and maybe lonely?
Are you a talented gardener who grows your own veg and could advise a novice starting out? `Can you ice cakes, paint or draw, read OS maps, or speak another language and would be happy to share this talent?
Or do you run a small business – making, for example, jewellery, toys or bespoke cakes – and would like to connect with local customers?
The register would just have an individual’s name and what was on offer. Phone numbers and emails would not be published online but held by VRG’s secretary and only supplied if a resident wished to enquire further.
Let us know what you think.
Keep safe, stay well and keep in touch!
Carron Valley & District Community Council and VRG Directors
Documenting Carron Valley’s wildlife – Adam and Esther Brooker
One of the draws that influenced our decision to move to Carron Valley in August 2017 was the environment – for two biologists who are very into wildlife and nature, it’s a perfect place to live, and we love being able to show our son James some amazing sights, like ospreys flying past our window! As scientists, we are used to (and quite enjoy!) recording data and we thought: wouldn’t it be great to record the wildlife in our surrounding area? We’d really like to find out things like how many species are found in the area, what rare species live here and track trends in our migratory species (such as the ospreys, which nest here every summer). Keeping wildlife records is also hugely helpful for the protection and conservation of our natural environment, as it might help us identify any changes or new threats, such as invasive non-native species.
Last summer we set up a new project on a citizen science app called ‘iNaturalist’ to do just this. You could think of iNaturalist as a social media platform for nature enthusiasts, run by the California Academy of Sciences and National Geographic. Basically, it allows users to record species sightings anywhere in the world and upload it to the app. Sightings that are recorded with a photo can be verified by the network of expert users, which then classifies the sighting as ‘research grade’ and can be used as scientific data (without a photo, the sighting is still valid but classified as ‘casual grade’). If you set up a project on the app, with defined geographic boundaries, any sightings that any user records within that area falls into the project. Users can also join the project and follow updates. And you don’t have to be good at identifying wildlife either – the app uses your photo to make a suggested ID, and it will be verified or corrected by other users. You do need to have GPS detection on your camera or phone, otherwise you’ll need to add the location of the sighting manually.
The project we set up is called ‘Carron Valley Biodiversity Project’. Admittedly a lot of the sightings we’ve uploaded are from our own garden, but we also had a go at starting to map species in the Community Woodland and hope to continue with this over the summer. Already we’ve got 79 observations of 62 species (as of March 2020). On iNaturalist you can record pretty much anything and everything living you can see – insects, plants, mammals, birds and fish.
Can others get involved? Yes! We’d love as many people to get involved as possible. It’s totally open and free for anyone to use. You can use iNaturalist on your computer or on your phone – for the latter, go to your app store and download the app. You’ll need to set up an account and it would be great if you could join the CVBP – but you don’t have to join it for your sightings to be included. And it doesn’t have to be anything you see from this point on either – if you have any old wildlife photos, with information about when they were taken and where, these can also be uploaded. We have seen lots of species that we haven’t managed to record yet (e.g. red squirrel, badgers and foxes) and we know that others have seen species that we haven’t (e.g. pine martin). It would be great if we can build up a picture of the wildlife on our doorsteps, in our Community Woodland and beyond.
To join iNaturalist on your computer: go to www.inaturalist.org, create an account and start recording!
To join iNaturalist via the app: go to your device’s app store and search ‘iNaturalist’, download it to your device and create an account (or login, if you’ve set one up on your computer).
You can record live (i.e. take a photo from the app and upload it immediately) or take a photo and upload it later. For any questions or if you need help getting started, please get in touch on email below.
We are lucky to have been offered the services of Morag Shaw, a qualified coach, who lives in Polmont, and is willing to assist any residents who might be finding things tough at the moment, for whatever reason. Morag is a friend of David Sparkes, and when she found out that we were setting up a volunteer network for the area, volunteered her services as a coach.
To give just one example, many people are currently working from home, which can be very difficult with the rest of the family around. Coaching can be a real help in situations like that – it helps you to develop a better understanding of what’s really going on and why, and hence what you can do differently to improve things.
Morag has kindly offered a number of initial coaching sessions for free. These are completely confidential, will last for 30 minutes, and are available via phone, or via Zoom or Skype videoconference. For more information, please see Morag’s introductory video, posted on the Carron Valley Connections Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/591993784484220/. To book a slot please see links below. Please pass this information on to anybody within your ‘patch’, who you think might be interested.