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Manchester alleyway transformed into a plant-filled haven

A Royal Mail driver has transformed the once litter-strewn alleyway that runs behind his house in Manchester into a plant-filled haven. When Patrick Smikle, 63, moved to the area four decades ago, the “ginnel” was used for fly-tipping. Sixteen years ago, however, he began turning it into a garden, helped by neighbours and friends. Today, where once there was broken glass and old washing machines, there are roses, hibiscus and an array of fruit trees. “It started out with a few plant pots outside my back gate and then I got carried away,” he said. “I just wanted somewhere that me and my neighbours could all enjoy.” 

Nuns save Rhodes monastery from fires

A group of nuns who refused to leave their monastery to the mercy of the fires raging in Rhodes managed to save the building from destruction. The eight sisters used buckets of water to wet the land surrounding the Holy Monastery of Panagia Ipseni. Then as the fires approached, they sheltered from the intense heat inside the chapel, as their abbess led them in chanting and prayers. Hours later they emerged unscathed. “It’s a miracle,” said one. “We believe that God saved us.”

Cardiff reservoirs reopen for swimming 

Two reservoirs in Cardiff are to reopen for swimming this week, two decades after they were acquired to make room for houses that were never built. Lisvane reservoir was built in the 1860s to supply drinking water to Cardiff, and as the city grew, another was built next to it. Having stopped supplying water in the 1970s, they were closed to the public in 2004. Now, thanks to a community-led effort, the woods around them have been restored, and swimmers are being welcomed back along with kayakers, sailors, and paddleboarders.

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