Waiting for the ash



We are making progress. More and more of us are walking and cycling. Perhaps because of this, a new Countryside Code has been published this year. `From what I remember about the old Code there was an emphasis on taking your litter home, keeping dogs on leads, remembering to shut gates, and not starting a fire.

Now, we are being asked to ‘Be nice, say hello and share the space’. Although, I am walking outside a little more, I do not think I will go near enough anyone to say ‘Hello’ just yet, but I am keen to be nice and share.

Another emphasis of the new code is to keep to marked footpaths, to protect crops and wildlife. Farmers have found that we walkers are straying off footpaths, especially if they are muddy. Perhaps the code should have mentioned sensible footwear?

We have a footpath here, from a wooden stile, on to a field of corn. The footpath goes diagonally across the field to a stile opposite – leading onto the A5 if you are brave enough to dart across such a busy road!  I expect there are ancient rights of way which have been preserved.

But it seems to me that we should not be crossing through the farmers’ crops. When I was young and living on a farm, we were always told not to walk through corn because the wind could channel through and cause a blowout. I would rather walk around keeping near to the hedge.

Respect for wildlife has always been part of the code and here, at home, everything is on ‘fast forward’. There are blue tits nesting in the bird boxes, robins building for the second time and baby blackbirds strewing the lawn. I have even seen a long-tailed tit collecting lichen from a tree trunk to make its little domed nest.

But my favourites, so far, are the swallows. It is a long time since I have seen them in any number but yesterday, I saw a line of them on the telephone wire. They sat there chattering, like spring notes on a music stave. Soon they flew off, but just before sunset I sat out near our woodland and saw a pair of swallows flying around the house and shed. Then off to the trees, high up in the canopy, where they could catch flying creatures hovering there. Our stable door is open already, hoping that this year they will nest here.

The ash trees are making slow progress though, they are way behind the oak, the saying tells us that we will not have a soak – so we can stick to footpaths which will not be muddy.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star)


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