Private life’s all on your phone

The decorations are down, the cards and wrapping are out for recycling and I hope your tree is headed the same way.

Did you register to have it taken away by Julia’s House? Once collected from local homes, the trees will be taken to Adventure Pirate, Lytchett Minster, and recycled as chippings for use around the site. This year’s Julia’s House Christmas tree collection included Purbeck, with bookings taken on the charity’s website.
By the time you’re reading this, you will probably have missed the registration date, but what a good idea – so make a note in your diary to remember it next year! All funds raised from the Christmas tree collection will help Julia’s House provide its lifeline of care for the most seriously ill children and their families in the local community.

Despite the protests on Facebook, 10 ‘dark sky standard’ low wattage LED lights will be installed along the pathway through Days Park with fittings designed to have 100 per cent downlight and no upward light, with a strong cut-off to the rear of fittings to enable low back light spill.
Swanage Council says: “Care has been taken to ensure that the installation of the new lamp columns are sensitive to the location of existing trees through site visits and engagement with Dorset Council arboriculture officers. These works, in conjunction with works planned by Dorset Council to install a new footway and dropped crossings in Ulwell, are part of a project to improve safety for pedestrian journeys to St Mary’s School.”
Now, I’ve always hated the idea of streetlights, which is why we made the choice to live in Harmans Cross where the only light pollution comes from a few private homes.
And normally I would have joined the campaign not to have lights in Days Park, but in the light of the fact that we now have a viable and thriving school up there, lots of new homes which I assume means lots of new children and young parents, enjoying settling in our beautiful town, we can no longer leave their safety to chance and a few torches.
It’s a shame that it has to be this way – but this is 2023 and not all those who walk the streets at night are harmless folk on their evening stroll with the dog. So – take a torch – or indeed, take a dog ! Or a pocket panic alarm. And peacefully enjoy our parks and gardens.

And on the subject of safety, whether in the park, in the dark, walking the river or the beach, or out and about in town, here’s something all parents should do. Even if the kids protest. When your child is going out, use your smartphone to take a picture depicting what they looked like and what they were wearing when they left. Simply that in the unlikely and horrifying event that they don’t come back, you have a really recent photo to show to the police to aid them in their search. Scrap it the next day when they’re safe!

I trust that you all know the ICE phone number safety measure that you can all take – it stands for In Case of Emergency and should be entered into your contacts. For example, ‘ICEJohn 07775 755 075’ means that if you’re involved in an accident and the responders need to know who to contact, the number’s right there on your phone. Make sure your children – and indeed your elderly relatives – have it on their phones!
Funny, isn’t it! In the 1960s and 1970s when we all preached Peace and Love and Freedom, if the Government had decreed that we should all have a chip embedded on our arm containing personal details, we hippies would have gone wild at this intrusion into our ‘privacy’ and some of us would have probably cut our arms off. Now, 95 per cent of us carry all this personal information about in our pockets! The ‘chip’ is called your mobile phone!
Another little mobile phone trick is to be careful about the information shown in ‘contacts’. Don’t disclose the relationship between you and the people in your contact list. Avoid names like Home, Missus, Hubby, Sweetheart, Dad, Mum etc. Why? If your phone is stolen, the thief will not be able to text your family and ask questions like “I’ve forgotten my pin number, can you remind me?” Or “what time did you say you’d be home”. And, most important, when a text asks for sensitive information, don’t respond, but immediately CONFIRM by calling back.
And finally, do you know which apps have unlimited access to your microphone and can hear you talking? And can then target advertising direct to you! Settings > Privacy > Microphone. Maybe you won’t want to turn it off. But maybe you will!

I had the privilege of interviewing Nick Viney from Worth Matravers on my radio show recently, to discuss the ‘warm places’ network being set up in Swanage and surrounding areas by the local council of churches. I’m sure a similar network will be in place in Wareham and Wool areas.
Basically, a spreadsheet showing which organisations open their doors to cold and lonely people when the weather is awful. Providing warmth, company, tea and coffee, sometimes soup and often free wi-fi. Just somewhere to go rather than huddle up over your electric fire alone. Make a friend, make a difference! And it’s much easier in the warm with a tummy-full of hot coffee! Go to and click on the link.

All through the Christmas period we have been blessed by the few kind souls who have turned out to bring us Christmas cheer – concerts, street markets, warm places, quizzes and special evenings. I raised my glass to them on Christmas Day and wished them happiness, friendship and success with their charitable ventures in 2023. As indeed I wish to you, dear reader!

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