Quality of life

We live in one of the UK’s most desirable locations.

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it's nice up here in the East Midlands!

I am catching up on a few items I came across during the Christmas break that I thought were quite interesting – one of those related to recent research on the most ‘desirable’ places to live in the UK. The research by the Halifax bank was based upon the following criteria;

  • jobs
  • housing
  • health
  • crime
  • weather
  • traffic
  • broadband access

Now as you might expect, most of the locations in the top 50 were in the South & East of England – Nowhere in the north of England, Scotland or Wales made the list. But, there were 4 places outside these regions in the top 50 and 3 of them were in the East Midlands – Rushcliffe in Nottingham, Rutland, and North Kesteven in Lincolnshire. In fact two of the three were in the top 25 – their relative positions were;

  • 16 Rushcliffe, Nottinghamshire
  • 22 Rutland

Rushcliffe is the area I am lucky enough to live in, but perhaps of more note is the fact that it is situated (and abuts) the City of Nottingham which is always being dragged down by the national media claiming that it has a high crime rate and is a terrible place to live (which it isn’t). Perhaps the BBC and the like should pay more attention to data such as this and amend their stories accordingly?

No doubt they won’t but again we have evidence that the East Midlands is a great place to live and work!

Internet & gadget use

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Being on holiday and away from your normal daily routine does tend to make you realise how ‘married’ to tech and in particular the Internet we have all become.

On our first week away this summer our apartment was supposed to have Internet access – it didn’t. I commented on it’s lack of it here. However this lack of easy access although limiting my use of the net, did not stop me. I could still blog from my iPhone.

It did however allow me to read more, which I actually enjoyed greatly. Our TV was also basic Italian channels and was not turned on once. The kids also read more and did not actually miss Internet access.

Our second week includes full wireless broadband and it is noticeable that everyone is reading less and has their noses firmly placed into their netbooks, iPods etc. Facebook, MSN and blogs and the like have been very active! We should have had Sky here as well but that is faulty – lucky in retrospect otherwise we would probably not be talking to each other at all!

A report released today brings this into focus as to how much of our day we spend normally watching or using tech.

The statistics from regulator Ofcom suggest people in the UK spend seven hours a day watching TV, surfing the net and using their mobile phones.

However, the average person actually squeezes in the equivalent of nearly nine hours of media and communications by multi-tasking on several devices.

The annual Communications Market Report says that the average person spends around 15 hours 45 minutes every day awake. Of this time, it says, the average person spends seven hours and five minutes “engaging in media and communications activities”.

However, it found that most people are able to cram in even more by multi-tasking. For example, the report found that adults aged between 16 and 24 appeared to consume the least, spending just six hours and 35 minutes a day on the phone, laptop, radio or television.

But by multitasking – effectively using two or more devices at once – the survey found that young adults were able to squeeze the equivalent of nine hours 32 minutes worth of consumption into that time.

Scary figures I am sure you will agree! From now on in this household the TV will be off more and iPhone etc will be used with more thought for others!

The Victorian’s were invariably right!

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It never ceases to amaze me how we constantly look back at our Victorian forebears and say ‘well they got that right then!’   

The Woodland trust have recently released a report indicating the positive effect that greatly increasing the tree cover in the UK would have on our quality of life, and also offer other benefits.   

 The last time there was a major planting regime? Victorian times!   

A view from Nottingham Castle

 

Living in Nottingham I am always amazed at how green the city looks from a high vantage point. No doubt this is one of the factors that has helped create the great feel that the city has’ and one of its major selling points to inward investors.   

The Woodland Trust report says planting more trees has been shown to improve air quality, reduce ambient temperatures and benefit people’s health. They say that the trend of declining tree cover in many areas needs to be reversed in order to improve access to green spaces in urban areas. It is generally accepted that green spaces can deliver significant improvements for relatively little cost in general terms.   

The issues outlined in the report included physical and mental health problems, childhood obesity, air pollution, soaring summer temperatures, flash flooding and diminishing wildlife.   

The trust estimated that 80% of the UK population live in urban areas, yet less than 10% of people have access to local woodlands within 500m of their homes.   

Looking back over history we see that Victorian times saw a real move towards parks and street trees, some of the big street trees that you find in our cities today go back to these times, but are now getting to the end of their natural lives. A major program of replanting is therefore required.   

What we have seen more recently is a reduction in the number of trees being planted, as well as the loss of the established Victorian trees with big canopies. We are starting to miss these from our towns and cities, and not enough thought has been given to replacements and to ensuring that there is going to be enough tree cover in the future.   

The report also highlights the role urban trees could play in preventing flash floods. Hard surfaces in towns and cities have increased in recent years, consequently we are seeing more flooding. One of the problems is surface water drainage, it has been shown that trees and woods are key to help control this type of flooding. As well as absorbing groundwater, tree canopies help reduce the volume of rainfall hitting the ground and relieve pressure on urban drainage systems.   

In its Programme for Government report, the coalition government announced that it would initiate a national tree planting campaign. Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said:   

 “If any organism has demonstrated an ability to multi-task, its trees. They capture carbon and hold soils together, prevent flooding and help control our climate. They also add immeasurably to the quality of life of our towns and cities.”   

    

The UK has very low woodland cover compared with the rest of Europe, as part of the report the Woodland Trust are actually looking for a doubling in native woodland cover. To support this it is launching a “More Trees More Good” campaign, which will look to plant 20m native trees across the UK for the next 50 years.   

Certainly if our experience in Nottingham is anything to go by the Trust could well be on to something!