Sunday 17 April 2011

Keeping Your Nose Clean

Can it please go on record that I did not do anything naughty today. These days do happen. I don't always have to be peeing on Mum in bed, killing nesting robins, invading neighbours' gardens and driving away their cats, battling with Rags or bickering with Haggis. There! Dad spent much of the day down at the barge, where the painting effort has now moved below decks as the outside is largely finished and awaiting its new rigging. Below decks the shipwrights are trying to create light airy living and educational spaces as befits a barge attempting to attract schools paying money to use the facility for projects about the history of the London River, trade, coasting barges and distribution before the era of motorways and HGVs. Also charter customers, who are no longer prepared to put up with "bucket and chuck it" toilet facilities and lousy damp bunks (I know!), but need single sex loos, shower cubicles, hot and cold running water, a decent galley and comfortable sleeping accommodation. Heating even! Gadzooks! Dad's cronies were talking of a nice evening sail today but that was before they'd read the tide tables. High tide was 13:00 today, so by evening all the boats were back sitting high and dry on the muddy ooze, and not going anywhere. Maybe next weekend lads! As a result, we all got a nice walk, out across the fields behind Dad's allotment. We ended up going a bit further than planned which was good for me but which had the H struggling a bit in the warm sun, his tongue lolling down to his front feet. Those fields were formerly abandoned and fallow, running to scrubby hawthorn and blackthorn and long grass, the hedge rows all thickening up and invading the fields. They were beloved of the local "yoof" and their trail bikes, and were criss-crossed by bike-trails which divided and split and came together again in a really useful network of choices of path. 2 years back, though, when the owner/developer finally admitted that he was probably not going to get planning permission for the dozens-of-acres housing estate of which he dreamed (and probably couldn't sell the houses anyway) , he engaged a local tenant farmer to reclaim the land for agriculture. This guy has moved in with big modern farm equipment and done what they always do - ripped out all the hedgerows, levelled banks and filled in dips to join up the small fields into huge areas, 50 acres or more per field. All the bike trails are gone and now there are just the few big tractor-roads around the site and them probably not really rights of way, the rest a glaring sea of bright yellow oil seed rape. Hence our long walk. Places I thought I could shortcut from A to B, there was no longer a trail - we had to go all round the outside of the huge fields. No matter, at least we can, for now, still get access, but it is a shame that all the wildlife we used to see in the abandoned fallow will probably not come back - the nightingales, cuckoos, hares (we even saw a got-lost-migrating white tailed eagle once!). The farmer guy has built a nice big pond by damming a stream, so he's probably ticked all the boxes to get his 'eco-farming' EEC grants, but we know different, don't we? Eco-dog Deefs

1 comment:

MR Silverwood said...

Well done Deefer, you get some long walks when you are good.