Monday, 21 March 2011

First Tick of the Year - March 20th

So much for the theory that says the hard winter will have hit Scotland's tick population. I found my first tick of the year on my right leg last night. I suspect I picked it up yesterday afternoon in my own garden, probably within 15 metres of the house, although it could have been on Saturday when I ran the Newtonmore 10 mile road race (in shorts) or when we went up Meall na h-Aisre in the afternoon (in gaiters). Most likely the garden I would say, in which case I picked up my first tick of 2011 on March 20th. My first tick of 2010 was on April 29th, so quite worrying that they're out so early this year compared to last.

Yesterday was mild though. Despite the breeze making it feel a bit cooler, our weather station recorded a high of 12.9C yesterday afternoon. That warm temperature was no doubt responsible for bringing the tick that attached itself to my leg out of the undergrowth.

I mention this in my blog, because ticks are probably not registering on most people's radars at this early stage in the year. Having previously suffered from Lyme Disease myself (2006) I'm keen to do my bit to communicate the message about taking precautions to avoid picking up ticks on your body and thereby reducing your chances of developing Lyme Disease.

To find out more about ticks & Lyme Disease I would recommend visiting the MCofS YouTube site to watch our 7 minute video on the subject.

Monday, 7 March 2011

It's March - Turn the lights on please

I can't believe the way in which our debate on daylight saving (putting the clocks backwards & forwards) is portrayed as being so black & white. From listening to the radio & reading the papers this last couple of weeks you could be fooled into thinking we have a straight choice between the status quo, permanent British Summertime & joining the European time zone. OK, that's three options, black, white or grey then. However, there are other options, or colours in the spectrum.

First of all though, there is the simple reality of having the same amount of light on a given day, whichever system we use. All the articles I have heard or read seem to miss out on that simple fact of physics. So, here is my my thinking on this one. December & January are in mid-winter & the days are very short. No system is going to give us more light to play with, but we can make it safer to get to & from school & work. Given the amount of light we have to work with in deepest winter I would say we are currently right to be on Greenwich Mean Time during this period of very short daylight hours.

However, we are now in March & there is lots of light around. It's just that a lot of it is around before we leave home on a morning & it would be good to have some of that light on an evening. From a hillgoers point of view we could have longer evenings in March to enjoy our walk off the hill. Or even just to potter around the garden or go for an evening run.

So, here's my contribution to this debate. Have the combination of British Summer Time & Greenwich Meantime that we currently have, but alter the dates when we fall back & spring forward. I would turn the clocks back a bit later than we do now, say around the first Saturday in November. Then at the other end of the winter, turn them forward a lot earlier than we do now, say around the third Saturday in February.

Of all the months in the year when the current system doesn't work well it has to be March. Surely we could tweak the current system so we get to use the light available to us in this month when winter starts to give way to spring.

If you agree with my views, or if you have views of your own, then do let your MP & MSPs know. Its important that this issue isn't allowed to drop off the agenda.