Monthly Archive for November, 2020

How to Help Our Wildlife This Winter

December is usually the month when a lot of our thoughts are focused on Christmas and the activities around the festival, but did you know that December the 4th is International Cheetah Day? Not only that, but the 21st of December is National Robin Day in the UK, the bird that almost epitomises Christmas. But as winter sets in, temperatures drop and food becomes scarce, it becomes very bleak for the wildlife in our gardens and countryside.  We can, however, do things to help. Most of them are very easy and some are absolutely free, but they can make all the difference for our animal friends!

1. Feed the Birds and the Wildlife

In the cold season, Animals will have difficulty finding their natural foods such as berries, insects and seeds, worms and all the other things they would normally eat. Whilst we shouldn’t put out too much food too often, as animals can come to depend on it, we can help them to get through the tougher times.

  • Birds – Provide a range of seeds, fresh unsalted peanuts and table scraps. Suet balls, mealworms, berries or chopped up fruits (apples, pears, plums) are also good.
  • Hedgehogs – Tinned dog/cat food (but not fish-based), minced meat or chopped boiled egg or scrambled egg. Don’t put milk out, even though they will drink it, as it can cause them problems.
  • Squirrels – love hazelnuts or walnuts. They also appreciate sunflower seeds and chopped carrot or spinach.
  • Badgers – Fruit (apples, grapes, pears), peanuts, lightly cooked meats, cheese, peanuts and fruit.
  • Small mammals – mixed seeds
  • Foxes: Cheese, boiled potatoes, chicken, bread and fat scraps left out at dusk.

Another thing to note is that if you live near a busy road, don’t leave out food if it encourages wildlife to cross it.

2. Leave out fresh water

Animals need to drink and bathe as they normally would in the hotter months, but ice can lock away moisture. A simple, free way to help animals this winter is to provide a source of water every day. Place a shallow dish or bowl of fresh water in your garden. Remember to check it throughout the day, pouring hot (not boiling) into it to melt any ice. You can also place a floating object into the water. This will provide an open hole for animals to drink from.

This will benefit all wildlife including birds. To do a little more you could invest in a bird bath to keep birds hydrated and clean.

3. Provide some shelter.

Investing in something like a Bird boxes or a hedgehog home or providing an undisturbed area in your garden can provide cosy shelters and habitats where wildlife can hibernate. A compost heap will make a perfect home for frogs, toads and other animals. Just gathering fallen leaves and placing these underneath hedges and shrubs can provide a safe home for hedgehogs and even insects!

You can even build your own hedgehog home if you are feeling creative.

When working in your garden over winter, check areas such as compost heaps and leaf before handling them. If you have areas where animals have taken refuge, remember not to disturb them until their hibernation is over and they have left.

4. Make a hole in your pond if it’s frozen

Making a hole in the ice on a pond allows wildlife access to the water in your pond can make all the difference. It also prevents toxic gases building up in the water, which can kill fish or frogs. The best and safest way to create a hole is to carefully place a saucepan filled with hot (not boiling) water on your pond until a hole has been melted. Don’t hit the ice to break it or pour boiling water directly onto the ice.

5. Check for Life Before Lighting a Fire

If you are planning a fire in your garden, remember logs, dead leaves, twigs etc, are havens for small creatures. If possible, rebuild your fire in a different place, carefully checking nothing is hiding or trying to sleep. Also carefully check compost heaps for life before turning them over with a sharp pitchfork or spade!

6. Consider Planting Fruit-Bearing Trees and Shrubs

This option is harder and takes a bit more effort and dedication, but is very worthwhile. Fruit bearing plants and are not only a valuable source of natural food for wildlife but also provide year-round homes and shelter.

7. Donate Food and Supplies to a Wildlife Sanctuary or Charity

Find out where your local wildlife sanctuary is and donate; food, supplies or even volunteer help. Or you can go to a wildlife charities website and donate directly.

8. Take Time to Observe What You’ve Achieved

It doesn’t help them directly, but observing the wildlife in your garden, as you sit indoors, will inspire you to carry on your efforts all winter long.

There are lots of things you can do this year, to make sure our animal friends have a happy Christmas.

How to Beat Procrastination

We’ve all been there. An important project or piece of work is imminently due. You have very little time left to complete it, but you know it has to be done, so you are working in a frenzy to finish it, but you still have so much left to do. The thing is, you were given this task weeks, even months ago. You have had plenty of time. Why didn’t you do it earlier? Is it because, like almost everyone else, you procrastinated?

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task, usually by focusing on less urgent and easier activities instead. Procrastination isn’t laziness, which is the unwillingness to act. It is actually an active process – you choose to do something else instead of the task that you should be doing. And none of us are immune; according to research, 95 percent of us procrastinate to some degree.

Even minor episodes of procrastination can make us feel guilty, but over a long period, it can demotivate us and lead to a loss of productivity that could have serious consequences. So, it’s important we do something to prevent it. The first step to overcoming procrastination is to recognize that we are doing it.

Are You Procrastinating?

Procrastination, as we said, is a habit and like all habits, we can overcome it. It may be that sometimes that we are putting off an important task for a good reason, but if we are constantly filling our days with low priority tasks, or starting high importance projects and then breaking off to do something else, or completing unimportant tasks that other people have asked us to do, then we are probably procrastinating.

Why are You Procrastinating?

There are a number of things that could lead to procrastination. Do you find a particular task boring or unpleasant? If that is the case, get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on more enjoyable tasks.

Poor organization can cause procrastination. You could use To-Do Lists to organize your tasks by priority and deadline.

It’s possible that you just feel overwhelmed by a task. If you have doubts about your own ability to compete a task, it is much more likely that you will put it off and complete the tasks that you know that you’re capable of doing.

How to Overcome Procrastination

“Do first what you don’t want to do most.” ― Clifford Cohen

Any habit is something that you won’t get rid of immediately. Procrastination will only stop being a habit when stop doing it. Here are some strategies to help:

Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past: it can make you feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.

  • Commit to the task. Focus on doing, not avoiding and promise yourself a reward if you complete a difficult task on time
  • Minimize distractions by turn off your email and social media. If you are working from home, turn off that TV.
  • Complete the tasks you hate as soon in the working day as possible.  That means you have the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.
  • Identify and focus on the long-term benefits of completing a particular task, rather than the short-term gain. Think also about what will happen if you don’t complete the work? How might it affect your personal, team or organizational goals?
  • Break down tasks into more manageable chunks. Organize projects into smaller tasks or create an Action Plan to organize your project, starting with quick and small tasks first. Getting “small wins” can provide a sense of achievement and give you some momentum.
  • You can set up Reminders on a daily or even hourly basis, to remind you that you should be working on that important project.
  • Spend 15 minutes a day or just clean and clear things as you go (email, physical cleaning, tasks, etc.). Otherwise you may leave these things and they can become overwhelming, leading to procrastination.
  • Just Do It. It is easier said than done, certainly, but the company who slogan it is has a guide: The Nike Guide to Overcoming Procrastination.
  • Automate if you can. If there are repetitive, simple everyday tasks that can be automated, then do this time and allow yourself to concentrate on more important, interesting things. Tools like Zapier and IFTTT are free for personal use, although they may have some limitations.
  • Realize that you will not achieve perfection. Nothing is perfect, but if you work hard and consistently, you may be surprised at how good what you produce ends up being.
  • Counterintuitively, it might help to work less. Stop trying to do too many things at once. Multitasking is a myth. You can’t do six things at once. As we’ve previously said, focus on the task that’s most important and do that.

“Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.” ― Matshona Dhliwayo

Remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. You will not beat procrastination overnight and if you are finding it difficult, then you are not alone. Give yourself a break now and again. And don’t believe that that you can never beat procrastination. You really can.

Fun Festive Facts

Christmas is coming. A season that has many traditions and stories associated with it. But where do all these traditions come from and are some of the things we know about Christmas actually true? At Infero we have sent our elves out to make a list of fun Festive Facts that you can use to amaze your friends and family. Be sure to check it twice.

1: Faster than the speed of Santa. US scientists calculated that Santa visits 822 homes a second to deliver all the world’s presents on Christmas Eve, travelling at 650 miles a second.

2: Christ’s Mass. The word Christmas comes from the Old English “Cristes maesse” meaning “Christ’s Mass”.

3: The tradition of putting tangerines in stockings comes from 12th-century French nuns who left socks full of fruit, nuts and tangerines at the houses of the poor.

4: Boxing Day gets its name from all the money collected in church alms-boxes for the poor.

5: Ebenezer Scrooge’s famous line “Bah Humbug” almost never existed. Charles Dickens’ initial choice was “Bah Christmas”.

6: Three Wise Men? Despite the tale of three wise men paying homage to baby Jesus, the Bible never gives a number. Matthew’s Gospel refers to merely “wise men”.

7: Noel. The word Noel derives from the French expression “les bonnes nouvelles” or “the good news”.

8: A Merry Greek Christmas. The Greeks celebrate Christmas on January 7, according to the old Julian calendar, while Xmas presents are opened on New Year’s Day.

9: Royalties from Christmas songs? Mariah Carey makes £375,000 per year from All I Want For Christmas, the Pogues make about £400,000 from Fairytale of New York. Top of the Christmas tree are Slade, who are reckoned to earn £500,000 per year from Merry Christmas Everybody.

10: The bestselling Xmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, shifting over 50million copies worldwide since 1942. In Britain, the best-selling festive single is Band Aid’s 1984 track, Do They Know It’s Christmas?, which sold 3.5million copies. Wham! is next in the same year with Last Christmas, selling 1.4million.

11: According to tradition, you should eat one mince pie on each of the 12 days of Christmas to bring good luck.

12: It’s technically illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day in England. In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas pudding, mince pies and anything to do with gluttony. The law has never been rescinded.

13: Holly and Ivy have been used to decorate homes since the 9th century because they symbolise everlasting life. The holly represents Christ’s crown of thorns and the berries his blood.

14: Santa Claus has different names around the world – Kriss Kringle in Germany, Le Befana in Italy, Pere Noel in France and Deushka Moroz (Grandfather Frost) in Russia.

15: Wassailing. Carols began as an old English custom called wassailing, toasting neighbours to a long life.

16: Jingle Bells. James Pierpont’s 1857 song Jingle Bells was first called One Horse Open Sleigh and was written for Thanksgiving. Jingle Bells was the first song broadcast from space when Gemini 6 astronauts Tom Stafford and Wally Schirra sang it on December 16, 1965.

17: Since 1947 Oslo has sent an Xmas tree to London to thank us for our help in the Second World War.

18: Xmas is a sacrilegious abbreviation. It isn’t actually and it’s not taking the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas. The ‘X’ is simply a substitute for the Greek word Chi which represents Christ. There is no intention of causing offence.

19: Prince Albert invented the Christmas tree. Tradition suggests that the husband of Queen Victoria brought the Christmas tree to England from his native Germany for the first time in 1848. There is evidence, however, that people in Britain had already been observing this tradition for around 100 years previous to this.

20: It’s Brussels sprouts not Brussel Sprouts. Despite the fact that three quarters (77%) of the UK refer to our favourite Christmas Veg as “Brussel sprouts”, the correct plural term is in fact “Brussels sprouts” (as they are named after the Belgian capital city). Just 18% of the public use the correct name, with the final 5% saying they “don’t know”.

21: Christmas Pudding. Christmas pudding was originally a soup made with raisins and wine.

22: In Somerset and parts of Dorset, it’s traditional for the last person to finish eating their sprouts to have to do the Christmas Day washing up dressed as a giant turkey. This tradition is believed to have started in the 1960s as a way to encourage children to eat their vegetables.

23: In a recent Yahoo poll, users voted the most popular Christmas film of all time as Home Alone, with The Muppet Christmas Carol second, and It’s a Wonderful Life third. It’s A Wonderful Life was mentioned in an FBI file in 1947, when an analyst expressed concern that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a “common trick used by communists.”

24: Many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, with the needles being a good source of Vitamin C. Christmas trees usually grow for about 15 years before they’re sold and average, three Christmas trees are planted to replace each one harvested.

25: For a christmas to be officially classified as “white” a single snow flake needs to be observed falling in the 24 hours of 25th December on the rooftop of the Met Office HQ in London.

Celebrate Universal Human Rights Month

December is Universal Human Rights Month, when we are encouraged to come together and stand up for equality, justice, and the dignity of all humans. Human Rights Month marks the initial codification in 1948, by the United Nations General Assembly, of the basic human rights of every individual on the planet.

It is often said that World War II was fought so that everyone should have four basic four freedoms:

  • Freedom of Speech
  • Freedom of Religion
  • Freedom from Fear
  • Freedom from Want

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

-Nelson Mandela

On the 10th of December the United nations adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). It is an international document that enshrines the rights and freedoms of all human beings. Considered a foundational text in the history of human and civil rights, the Declaration consists of 30 articles detailing an individual’s “basic rights and fundamental freedoms”. These rights include freedom from discrimination, the right to equality, and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.

“You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man’s freedom. You can only be free if I am free.” – Clarence Darrow, American lawyer

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that these rights are applicable regardless of gender, age, race, political affiliation, or sexual preference. It has been translated into more than 500 languages — more than any other document in the world.

Celebrate Human Rights Month by understanding firstly what this codified set of freedoms does for you. There is an illustrated version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights available.  National Human Rights Month is about acknowledging that people are people, plain and simple. You can get involved and volunteer for an organization such as Amnesty International, a charity organization that works tirelessly to support and spread human rights.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King

You can also read a book about the Declaration of Human rights, or about human rights in general. And spread the word on social media using #NationalHumanRights and #HumanRights. Take time to remember the people that don’t enjoy the same freedoms and liberties that we, perhaps, take for granted.

Hashtag                #HumanRightsMonth