the Editor - July 2011
In the early 1930s my father bought about ten acres (4 ha) of land a few miles outside Gloucester. The area was at the foot of the Cotswolds and well served by a stream which had its source where the limestone met the heavy clay sub-soil.
Our main paddock was set aside for hay; the cows took over after the hay was cut and stacked.
As I am approaching ninety my memory may be unreliable now,
but my immediate reaction to the photograph of a hay meadow in the May issue (‘Encouraging new growth of traditional hay meadows, pp10-11) is that this paddock should be ploughed up and reseeded.
Creeping buttercup appears to have taken over, while white clover is abundant there is scarcely any red clover, and little variety in the types of grasses visible.
I would be most interested to hear the opinions of better-informed readers.
The Countryman continues to give me, and my friends who know the UK well, immense pleasure.
Dorothy Dyett, Wellington, New Zealand
What does the countryside mean to you?
I am currently undertaking a research project at the University of Derby and would like to invite the readers of The Countryman to contribute to the success of this project. It is anticipated that the final research report will help countryside managers plan for the future as these special places become subject to increasing social and economic pressures.
If you would like to help, please write to me (by post or email) and tell me, in as many words as you want, what the countryside means to you, as a place to live or as a place to visit, what it is about the countryside you value most and what you do there. Please tell me how you think The Countryman enhances your personal experience of the countryside.
If you would be interested in participating in more in-depth interviews and live within the catchment area (one hour drive-time) of the Peak District National Park, please include your contact details and I will send further information in due course.
Please send your reply by 30th October 2011.
Paul Wilson, University of Derby, Markeaton Street, Derby DE22 3AW;
Regarding Robin Page’s article on country MPs (May), I would like to inform him that North Shropshire has a very active ‘countryman’ as its MP.
Owen Paterson lives in the area and is very active in all country matters.
A few years ago he supported villages when there was a danger
of the local schools closing. He also helped (to no avail) to try to get
the law regarding temporary event notices for village halls changed
(the halls can only have twelve per annum).
As the main money-makers are weddings, parties etc, the hall committees have their hands tied when they have issued the last of the temporary event notices.
Val Brown, Clerk to Cheswardine Parish Council & Chairman of Cheswardine Parish Hall
Every year the bluetits have brought up a brood of chicks in the nesting box in the plum tree in my back garden in north Leicestershire … until this year.
When I had a closer look at the box in May to see if there was any sign of why the tits have abandoned me, I saw bees flying in and out of the entrance hole.
A search on the internet soon informed me of Bombus hypnorum, the tree bumblebee, a continental species which was first reported in the UK in the summer of 2001 from the Hampshire/Wiltshire border.
Since then it has expanded into practically the whole of England.
My sadness at losing the blue tits has turned to joy at having bees instead.
Leslie Cram, Melton Mowbray
In the autumn of 1950, people could get petrol for their cars but the village garage could get little antifreeze. Drivers would have to drain down their cars and tractors every frosty night for yet another winter.
Then, suddenly, the garage had plenty of antifreeze at a very reasonable price.
Only years later would the garage owner tell how this came about.
In 1950 there was still an army camp on the edge of the village, and the motor transport had been put in the hands of a cocky young subaltern who believed in Admiral Fisher’s policy: ‘Never explain’. One day he ordered the sergeant to tot up the total water capacity of their fleet of trucks.
“212 gallons, Sir,” he reported back.
“Right sergeant, order 212 gallons of antifreeze.”
The scowl on the officer’s face shut him up. The ordered antifreeze arrived, and 25 per cent of it went into the army trucks in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions but 75 per cent found its way to the garage which sold cigarettes but also knew when to give them away.
Roy Jenkins, by email
With regard to the article about Callanish Standing Stones (May),
I visited a similar circle of stones in Derbyshire called the Nine Maidens.
The legend goes that the maidens were originally ladies who were dancing on a Sunday, contrary to local law. Consequently they were turned to stone. One stone was placed outside the circle and this was supposed to be the piper supplying the music.
Margaret Riddell, Coventry
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