Tern tables and social networks

I do enjoy living where we do in London. For a large city, it has a lot of green spaces.

This weekend, my giant teenager and I went down to the local ecology park on the Thames to help load up the rafts for nesting terns. It was actually sunny for a change and so we did a fair amount of lugging gravel and lifting onto these rafts, for the birds that migrate from Africa to settle in the neighbourhood.

We were joined by people from all over the metropolitan area, from Hackney to southwest London. In some ways, we were the closest, having strolled down the Thames Path from up the hill. But it was a delight to meet all these volunteers, who were interested in nature and helping our local ecology park.

Going out and interacting with other people is a good thing. Even though the offspring was on the phone, he still communicated with his fellow humans in real life. He chatted with the woman who has come here from Hong Kong and misses the food, at the park. He discussed birds with a nice man from west London. We talked football and got a workout.

In an article in the Times today, Libby Purves discusses how alienation and loneliness can affect anyone, not just the elderly. She notes, “The material public realm matters to individual happiness. It should encourage gathering, meeting, promenading and shared space, even during a cost of living crisis.” Regional theatres, local music enterprises, cheap transport and a diversity of places to congregate without having to buy a coffee are all arenas where we can all meet.

We all don’t live in big cities, but sometimes living in a big city is the loneliest thing, as we’re surrounded by people we don’t talk to. We are social animals, after all. And birds need a place to gather too.

Speaking of congregating, our Expo is happening on 27 June at Staffordshire County Showground. It will be a place of gathering and meeting up, both of old and new friends. It is free to attend, so come along and socialise and look at equipment and products that are central to our industry. Eat some cheese and chat. I promise, there will be no need to lug 25kg bags of gravel anywhere.

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