bison Studio Tuesday

Studio Tuesday

England is a fortunate country is that we tend to be very interested and eager to learn from other countries. Let’s see what we can learn from our international neighbours, and learn some interesting facts at the same time!

Belarus is a tiny country sandwiched between many Eastern European countries (including Ukraine) and Russia. Harrison Ford’s maternal grandparents were from here! It’s not so well-known as some other countries, but it’s known as ‘the lungs of Europe’ due to most of it being covered in forest. Unlike here, where the Cameron government tried to sell off our remaining forests to private industry, only a petition by 38 Degrees stopped it from doing so.

40% of Belarus is simply trees and forests

Białowieża Forest is the main forest, home to over 800 bison (Europe’s heaviest land mammals) and most of the rest of the country is covered in trees too. England used to be heavily forested, but today we’ve lost nearly all our forests (Surrey remains one of the counties that retains most of its trees). Forests not only provide trees that give homes to native wildlife, but they are good for our mental health, and help to soak in carbon dioxide and buffer wind and floods. Learn of ways to protect our fabulous forests.

people in Belarus are charming & helpful

Of course, most people in England are too. But we have seen of late too much of ‘ugly media’ and ‘ugly politics’. Many hair salons now refuse to stock ‘gossip magazines’ after the suicide of TV presenter Caroline Flack. And at time of writing this post (the day after the General Election), the newly-elected MP Nigel Farage was heckled by someone accusing him of racism. Instead of quietly explaining his politics, he just smirked and yelled ‘boring!’ If that’s what we have come to, we could look to Belarus. Apparently in Belarus, people never talk loudly on their phones (nor listen to loud music, if someone else is nearby). It’s just not the done thing!

people in Belarus eat pancakes for breakfast

It’s strange that in England, most people only eat pancakes (with lemon and sugar) on Shrove Tuesday (a Catholic tradition to use up leftover pantry ingredients before Lent). However as in the USA and Canada, pancakes make a wonderfully healthy cooked breakfast if done well. You can make them with plant-based ingredients and serve with fruit, maple syrup and even a dollop of vegan ice-cream.

what not to learn from Belarus

The city of Minsk houses what some call is one of the ugliest buildings on earth – the library! It has a massive ‘diamond’ on top that makes people say it looks more like a military institution, than a seat of learning. Another ‘ugly Eastern European building’ is Prague’s Zizkov Tower (tall and grey, some say this ‘mini Eiffel tower’ looks more like an electric toothbrush).

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