Togo achieves ‘major feat’ of eliminating four neglected tropical diseases | Global health | The Guardian

People are a huge part of the ecosystem in which we live and good news about health is so often smoothered in all the bad news. So here is a fantastic good news story from Africa . Something to really enjoy!

WHO hails west African country as first in world to stamp out Guinea worm, lymphatic filariasis, sleeping sickness and trachoma
— Read on


The grumpy angels.

I love it when you can see the character of the faces on the wall. Most saintly or angelic decorative faces were just that, decorative and often blandly pretty. It is much more fun to spot faces that are individual and to wonder at who they really were: what arguments and passions might have motivated them. Did they like one another; were they related; were they rivals for high office or even love?

I don’t know the story behind these unlikely angels and I prefer it that way, as I can almost hear them bickering over seating in church, who has obtained preferment or what was in last night’s dinner.

They are from the beautiful church at Saint Ursanne in Switzerland. The river curls peacefully around the little ancient city and the tourists often miss these three grumpy angels high above them; so I thought I would introduce them to you today and allow you to wonder at the real men who inspired them in this lovely spot!

Staying around.

Staying put means you notice things .

This dragon fly laid her eggs on a mossy stone . I always assumed they deposited their eggs into water and if anything should know the difference between stone and water, then a dragonfly should. She choose the stone. Maybe their life cycle is more complex than I imagine. I could look it up. I could read about it in books and on line, or I could just watch and wonder. Sometimes that is all I want to do: just watch and wonder.

It rained and hailed this week. The pot of basil was shredded, but the broken leaves were preserved in a bed of hail under the stalks. They were cooked in spaghetti bolognese for dinner.

The first migrating warblers are turning up in the garden, feeding for a while on their way home to Africa.

After the rain, the heavy phone cables strung across the road,glittered with rain drops sliding along the cable like iridescent jewels on a dowager duchess’s necklace.

I swear I could hear the soil absorbing the sweet rain and the cracks healing.

Out of the Sun.

It has been so sunny here that the light is positively Mediterranean and so bright, that sometimes one longs for the night.

I haven’t been posting much, as the endlessly dry nights have meant non stop mothing and then hours identifying and recording what has appeared. This is a delight for me, but it is also time consuming, so I am sharing a few delights from the last few days by way of a blog. There have been plenty of smaller and less brightly coloured moths in the trap, but I am sparing you some of my obsession!

Convolvulous hawk moth. Look at those warning fake eyes!
Lesser elephant hawk moth
Garden tiger
Polar hawk moth ( upside down)

Oak eggar peeking over the egg box where he spent the night.
Rosy footman ( great squiggly line!)

Not what you think.

I spent the afternoon surrounded by sparkling water; water lilies and reed warblers, sunlight dancing on ripples and dragon flies that seemed as big as birds.

A buzzard swooped out of a tree, mewling mewling and flew low over the water. Buzzards don’t fish and I realised that this bulky, noisy bird was in fact an osprey. In this quiet, out of the way lake an osprey was hunting. Perfect.

But the lake was once a football field, drained and filled in to provide work for the unemployed during the depression of the 1930s (so the information board said).

The lovely lake is at Bonfol in Switzerland and it is also the site of one of the worst dumps of toxic chemicals in Europe.

Bonfol is right on the very, very edge of Switzerland, right up against the French border. It is also very close to the city of Basel, which is famous for its chemical factories and life saving pharmaceutical companies. In the 1960s and 1970s those companies dumped massive amounts of toxic waste in metal barrels in a hole in the ground left after digging out clay for a pottery works. The barrels were simply covered in earth and left to fester and leak and even explode.

When the full horror of what was under the fields was realised in the 21st century, an unbelievably expensive clean up operation had to be undertaken. It was so bad that robots had to dig out the chemicals, as it was too dangerous for any human to go close. A vast dome was built over the dump site in which the work could be undertaken.

I first saw the gigantic white dome in the middle of the woods from a nearby hillside. I naively thought it was something to do with marking the hundred years after WW1, as this was in 2014 and the nearby area had been fought over in this war: but no. Interestingly, the companies responsible for this potentially deadly dump did not pay for the colossal clean up until 2000. Local government and Greenpeace managed to exert sufficient pressure on the polluters and the complicated and expensive clean up finally began.

I take a wonderful drug everyday developed by a Swiss pharmaceutical company and I am very grateful for it; but I would not put a toe in the water of this lake and I would not share the fish caught by the osprey on this sparkling afternoon.


The summer rolls on.

The mornings are cool and dry and the warm pine trees smell like Greece. Cans of water are lugged to the vegetables and the roses sulk at not getting their fair share.

The fly door slams.

More tea is taken out to the shade. The butterflies wake up and the buddleia draws them in with heady perfume and endless nectar. The lazy flap of a fritillary butterfly speeds up as it swerves a predatory hornet.

The cat climbs onto the roof of the shed to survey her domain.

A pink petunia flower is caught in the net of a spider and pirouettes in the breeze. It continues to dance and turn when the wind drops and high above, a spider laboriously cuts the flower free of the threads and the pink skirts swirls slowly down to the ground.

The breeze returns and the wind chimes ripple . No one shouts, no mowers, blowers or saws disturb the summer air.