Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The permissive society...

No, no – the Naked Rambler hasn’t yet reached these parts – at least, if he has, he hasn’t been spotted by me – I’m talking about permissive footpaths and the excellent news that we now have a new permissive footpath leading from the entrance to the Show Ground to the Red Hatches footbridge along the banks of the River Avon.

One of the very best things about living here is the impressive number of footpaths that wander lazily through some of the area’s loveliest scenery. There may not be many hills, or dramatic cliffs or prehistoric monuments as in other parts of the county, but there’s something very English about the tussocky rolling meadows that flank the meandering Bristol Avon as it wends its gentle way through the Somerfords, and the abundance of wildlife – both flora and fauna – to be found here. This time of year, the countryside is at its best: the Old Rectory's mighty candle-bedecked horse chestnuts dipping into the shallow river; hedgerows lined with frothy blackthorn, may and cow parsley, and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a young deer or two darting back into the cover by the old railway line, the turquoise flash of a kingfisher or a little owl flitting from a gnarled old hawthorn to the safety of the trees of Peter’s Wood.

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View from the allotments
Well, strictly speaking, this isn’t exactly a view FROM the allotments, so much as from the footpath THROUGH the allotments. Peering enviously over the serried ranks of runner bean poles, usually in the direction of Bernard’s asparagus, which is coming along nicely, and – thanks to Bernard’s generosity (well either that, or his uncanny ability to recognise a heavily dropped hint when he sees one) – I can also personally vouch for its exceptional deliciousness.

There I was thinking a seat on the Parish Council would be a passport directly to allotment heaven, but No Siree. No nepotism in this village (well, if there is, I haven’t managed to sniff it out yet. although be warned – no stone will be left unturned, no gatepost left unsniffed, appropriate measures taken and legs cocked accordingly). The trouble is, I’m being a bit fussy. I’ve asked for a plot up by the shop – well, you never know when you might feel the need for a packet of Bombay Mix or a Farmer’s Weekly, and when the urge strikes, it has to be addressed quickly – and the only free one seems to be smothered in weeds, which will need dousing thoroughly with John’s weedkilling apparatus (come on, John – chop chop, I haven’t got all year…)

But thanks to the kindness of strangers (well, not exactly strangers – I have to confess to a passing acquaintance with Adam and Cheryl over the occasional half of Moonlight in the Volly, not to mention many episodes of cat-sitting and the generous loan of a chainsaw and several hundred culinary items. Ok, ok - I know them quite well...) I’ve managed to find a temporary home for a couple of rows of early potatoes and a very small tomato plant. No takers for the rambling squash plants yet, which are currently bursting out of their seedling containers in our wood store, but I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of time… They are organic, you know…

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