‘ad a bite

It is time now to start observing adders but in the summer they are far less predictable.

In September 2009, at the reserve I look after, I ventured my right foot over a fallen branch into the unknown, and felt a bit of discomfort. I was in sandals, not a good practice, and it could have been that I had stabbed the tip of my toe with a sloe thorn.  However my colleague noticed an Adder sliding away.  He did not see how close it had been to my toe, and I was not clear if I had been bitten by it.

Returning home after finishing my tasks, I decided I should call at the minor injuries unit of the hospital.  There was a single tiny perforation of the skin on the tip of my toe, no other outward signs of a snake bite, but I was starting to feel a little peculiar.  The paramedic took my blood pressure which was seriously low.  He sent me to the District General Hospital.

The doctors there were still not convinced of this being a snake bite because the indicative blackening of the skin had not started.  Tests were done, and blood was taken. However I became sick and developed a cold sweat!  I had by then the classic black disc around the bite, some mild paralysis of the calf and thigh muscles, the right elbow and the tongue.

Eventually four pages of test results came back from the medics all of which were readings within normal range. Blood pressure had also returned to normal.  I was sent home feeling rather drained.  By the morning I felt fine apart from a throbbing toe.

This was not the end of the story.  Two days later some inflammation was moving into my foot, so I returned to the hospital to be given some antibiotics, though eventually a consultant concluded that these were not necessary; apparently what I had, was the reaction one would expect from a snake bite. Four weeks later my toe still had peeling skin, which resulted in bleeding and required some visits to the dreaded dressings clinic..

I have often told people, adder bites are no big deal; I thought that was the case, but I now know that they are not a trivial matter that can always be treated lightly.

Needless to say I am always as ever thrilled to conserve Adders.

Luke 10:19

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

However I advise no one to try this at home, least of all in sandals!


This is not a trick picture though it fooled me at first. This adder, not the one that bit me, was airing itself,reaching out of the damp zone in this tidal environment.


Why I expect to vote Green but am unlikely to join the party

A whole lot of comment recently has suggested that a high proportion of the public are not thrilled with the main political establishment, and at the same time there is a considerable swell of support for other parties, UKIP, Scottish Nationalists and Greens. At least one survey suggests that among the young voter age group the Green party is generating a whole lot of support.

I have voted in nearly every election since 1970, occasionally for each of the mainstream parties but have become angry as our national elected representatives have appeared more and more cynical. In the last general election, in the European elections and in the recent by-election, which elected the first UKIP MP, I voted for the Green Party candidate, having come to know him well during that time.

I am particularly critical of the party in our government whose leader said that he would lead the greenest government ever, before weakening the influence of Natural England, before opposing a limited two year ban on neonic pesticides, which had clearly not been adequately tested, and before a whole host of other policies which have placed the interests of business before the natural world or indeed ordinary people.

I expect the following from a party which I can support.  It must aim to:

  • allow fair opportunities for everyone
  • support a sustainable environment according to the latest science
  • promote an economy, which does not force future generations to pay for present activities

Generally the Green Party is well in line with these broad aims, though I am not sure about how far they would go with the third. This does not mean that I agree with every one of their policies.

I believe for example that the electricity we need should be partly generated by nuclear power. This cannot be the only solution any more than wind turbines could; the one you cannot quickly turn off when demand is low, and the other is useless when the wind is calmed.   We would agree on the aim of reducing energy use.  I don’t think electricity generators would be so keen.

In a similar way I think that if wheat can be made to meet its own nitrogen requirement by genetic engineering that would be fine, provided that adequate testing and monitoring were mandatory.

These two examples illustrate that I actually support government policy in these areas, despite not trusting the government; I am a scientist after all. There should be laws that prevent abuse of these matters by business, and in this I would trust the Greens more than the others.

I am now represented in Parliament by Douglas Carswell, a UKIP MP.  I would understand his defection from the conservatives better if he had become an independent as I often wish that all MPs were. However I wonder whether it is possible to prevent our representatives being influenced by lobbies anyway, whether independent or from any party.

Even if I was in a position to represent myself in parliament, though I might be able to keep to the broad aims I mentioned, I am aware that I would not be qualified to decide on the details of implementing them. It is the same for all MPs. A hypothetical parliament of independents would in any case not agree unanimously but would have to reach an acceptable consensus.

So though I expect to vote Green I would not be able to adopt every policy that a green party may promote, and even if I was the one to decide such a policy I would not always have an answer.