Enjoying the countryside safely

Blogging at The Farm Upon The Hill, Kate Morris is a working vet living on a Pembrokeshire dairy farm with her partner and two small children. In a recent post she tackled the question of enjoying the countryside in safety. Her observations struck a chord with me, and so I have reblogged her reflections here. Continue reading “Enjoying the countryside safely”

1300 lost villages

Shaun Spiers has been the chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England since 2004. From 1994 to 1999, he was an MEP for the South East, serving on the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee. He is also a trustee of Sustain, the alliance for food and farming. In his CPRE blog, Shaun shares his views on combining sustainability with a thriving, vital countryside. In this post, he reflects on modern perceptions of rurality and the statistics of land use compared with the subjective experiences of country-dwellers.

Land use statistics are abstract. What matters is people’s experience of the countryside. If a couple of small fields are developed, that will not make a dent in the statistics, but it matters hugely to people for whom those few fields are the countryside as they experience it every day.

Continue reading “1300 lost villages”

The glow of September

Autumn has arrived in the valley. Despite record high temperatures this week, the season can no longer be denied.  Blackberries are ripening exponentially, day after day, spiders’ webs glisten with dew at dawn, and there has been a subtle shift in the spectrum, toward a clarity, a purity of tone which does not exist in summer. The light is as warm as honey on the skin, lucid and amber-tinted, as though the glow of the coming harvest moon has somehow leached into the daylight.

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10 September 1916

‘Edward was so popular with the whole Battalion, and you have the consolation of knowing that the dear child – for he looked so young – met his death with the greatest courage and bravery. The whole life out there was hateful to him, but he never murmured, and has been, and always will be, an example to us all by his absolute purity of word and deed.’

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With so many words, in all media, dedicated to the repercussions of the UK referendum, I have been reluctant to express an opinion here. But on this morning, the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, with the blackbird, wren and chaffinch singing in the garden and highly-appropriate skylarks soaring in music overhead, I am irresistibly drawn to one thought.

Continue reading “Folly”

Gathering thoughts in May

Robert Browning may have craved his homeland in April (and who would not?), but is there any month more urgently, lasciviously, resplendently English than May? The very word drips with subtext; with sappy, fleshy undercurrents of light, warmth and fecundity.

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The break in the chain

Meat used to be a matter of confidence and pride. Every market town held its own local fat stock show and sale in the weeks before Christmas, where farmers would compete to present the best-finished beef animal and butchers would vie to outbid each other to secure the champion beast and the honour of offering its meat to their customers, the cuts laid out in their shop window alongside its rosette and the winning farmer’s name.

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Saying ‘goodbye’ to a friend

Sadly, a casualty of Storm Katie was the horse chestnut tree which stood at the foot of Dux Hill. It was such a handsome tree, its sticky buds just breaking into bright green soft leaf, full of the promise of the white flower heads, called ‘candles,’ to come.

Continue reading “Saying ‘goodbye’ to a friend”