Have I outgrown BBC television?

When I was younger I remember watching Countryfile on a Sunday morning with my dad, not every week, but fairly often. It seemed to me to be full of information about farming, a bit about nature and the week’s weather forecast. Growing up in the suburbs, I lapped it up, it was my weekly dose of ‘The Country’.

They have moved it to a prime time slot on a Sunday evening – something relaxing before a hectic week at work perhaps. I have watched it for the last two weeks and have found it deeply disappointing, I don’t think I will bother to tune in next week. I may be viewing through age-misted glasses, but there seems to be a lot about tourism – last week we had the Cleveland Way and the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, this week it was kayaking and snow climbing around Nevis. Even these are only snapshots and in some cases seem to be poorly edited bits from other, perhaps longer, programmes.

There is very little of educational value, a small section from Adam on his farm, and an article from John Craven about some rural issue, but even these were only surface deep and didn’t tell me anything new. Most of the features would have been more likely to have featured on John Craven’s Newsround or Blue Peter 25 years ago, not Countryfile.

Something that I know has definitely changed in the last year is Gardener’s World. I have watched this most weeks for many years, my way of winding down and chilling on a Friday evening. Whilst I admit I was a fan of Monty Don (there is something incredibly soothing about his presentation style and his love of gardening was obvious) and that I am struggling to take to Toby Buckland, it is not the change of presenter that is causing me a problem. After all, Toby did present quite a lot last year along with Alys, Jo Swift and Carol Klein, and still I kept watching. This season though, it is dumbed down television at its worst. How to make an auricula theatre in 30 minutes, plant daffodils bought in flower from the garden centre and the dreadful and completely pointless what’s hot and what’s not section.

I know that they are trying to appeal to as many people as possible, but nearly everything is about starting something from scratch. Please don’t forget about those of us who already enjoy spending time in our garden, give us something new as well.

Is anyone else finding the latest BBC series a little dull and dumbed down, or am I on my own? At least Radio 4 remains an island of informative programming in a lowest common denominator world.

Enviro-mentalist at work.

A year ago I set my team of direct reports the goal of examining the environmental and ethical impact of our workplace. OK, it was a bit of a nebulous title, but the idea was to get them working as a team and to think of something for an hour every other week that was not directly related to their current roles and that may spark a bit of interest. Any environmental or cost savings would be an added bonus. This was a group of people that had different experiences, different roles in the site and, different levels of knowledge and interest in the environment, sounds like the perfect team!

I have to admit, that at times it has been an uphill struggle and, my idea of letting them find their own way has led to fewer results than would have been ideal in the space of a year, but, all in all I would say there have been a number of successes, and I am keen to continue the work for a second year, but with some modifications.

We work for a service provider, with sites around the country, but with only a small number of employees. We don’t make anything, so there are few benefits to be gained in terms of reduction in waste materials, and the small number of employees at each site means that the energy consumption from IT equipment is minimal. (This is particularly so when one of the machines at site uses a massive amount of electricity every time it is turned on.)

Our main issue has been the apathy of people who don’t necessarily feel that they can make a difference at work, and the management of the Company for whom this does not seem to be a priority. Our main mistake has been that we did not start out creating the right kind of PR so did not counter the apathy and get others’ buy in at an early stage.

Over the coming weeks I will let you know how we have progressed, what has worked, and what has not and, hopefully, if any of you have any suggestions then you will let me know. I will be detailing our site surveys by external agencies, our attempts at recycling, our progress on energy usage and the payback we are hoping to get from our efforts.

If you have had any experience attempting to improve the environmental credentials of your workplace please leave a comment to let us all know how well it has been received and whether you feel that you are making a difference.

Big Garden Birdwatch – Pink is in, Gold is out.

Pink is in. Yes, there is a new entrant into the top 10 and it seems to have got people excited (including me because it is my favourite bird). For the first time the long-tailed tit has made it into the hit parade of garden birds, ousting last season’s new star, the goldfinch.

It is believed to be due to the mild winters of the past two years (these tiny birds are susceptible to cold) and the fact that although they are usually a woodland bird they have adapted to feed on birdtables, feeders and, in particular fat balls. In the winter these birds travel round in family groups, so if you see one, there will be several more on the way. By now they have paired up for the breeding season so you are only likely to see one or two at a time. Look out for them gathering moss and spiders’ webs for their nests (they presumably eat any spiders they find), although they are only tiny they are easy to spot and recognise and they are not the quietest of birds.

Other winners this year included woodpigeon and collared doves which are being spotted more often in gardens (certainly in mine). On the losing side are still the sparrow and starling whose numbers still show a decline. Don’t worry about the goldfinches though, numbers are still high, just not as high as the little pink fluffy long-tailed tits.

More information about the results of the survey can be found on the RSPB’s website.