Thursday 27 January 2011

Under the Greenwood Tree

We live in what is grandly called "Queen Elizabeth Avenue", and "Avenue" presupposes trees. Not to Hampshire County Council, it seems. We are almost next door to the Police Station in Lymington, and there have been some good trees along the front and side of it. A couple of years ago two mature 'false' Acacias were pollarded, for no very good reason. One of them died as a result, but the other recovered and last year put out some good branches. Today, men from the council came and removed the stump of the one tree, and the whole of the other. "It was dead" they said. It certainly was not. The trunk which they lopped into bite-sized pieces was sound throughout. Then they went on to hack at a very fine Cedar; no, they were not going to take it down, they said, just pruning it. My picture (above,l) shows them stopped in their labours eyeing the photographer suspiciously.

I spoke to a tree person at our local Council, the New Forest District. 'Not us, Guv; the police station is a County Council property'. So I emailed Hampshire County Council's tree person. I eagerly await his reply. I am told it can have nothing to do with making the Police Station site more saleable for development. We shall see.

All this is particularly a matter of concern just now as the Government, in the cause of the "Big Society" (and nothing, of course, to do with raising some ready cash) intends flogging off our Forests and Woodlands - ours, not the Government's. Oh, well, local groups can get together to buy them. What, buy the whole of the New Forest? What of the Verderers and their ancient rights, with HM the Queen as Head Verderer? What of the thousand years of history of this ancient Forest, by no means all of it woodland, much open moor and secluded glades? Who will have the resources to care for it, as the Forestry Commission and the National Parks Authority have done? It will be very tempting for someone with a large wallet to buy up sections of the Forest and sell the timber, or develop the open areas for yet more golf courses.

Open land and Forest

There is a 'public consultation' just beginning, and you can find it at the DEFRA website; or you can make your views known to them direct by emailing them at It will probably be useless, even though it seems some 80% of the population is opposed to this sale, since the Government is hell-bent on raising this cash, but at least we should not stand by and wait for it to happen.

Oh, and on that website DEFRA asserts that 'Heritage and community forests which provide high public benefits will be protected by inviting new or existing charitable organisations to take on ownership or management'. Have they any idea who will staff such undertakings? The running of the New Forest, or the Forest of Dean, or any of our other great National forests, is not something to be funded by jam-making and staffed by volunteers from the retired community which is already over-stretched. I know, for I am part of that community.

Sunday 23 January 2011

It Shouldn't be Allowed

What shouldn't be allowed? Godchildren growing up, that's what. How can a Godson of mine be having a 50th birthday? But he is, and it was fun. The disco was a bit hard on the eardrums last evening, but today's pub lunch was great. You might like to see the birthday boy himself, with his dad... (dad is on the right)

Here is his lovely sister (flown in from Oz for the occasion) with one of their nephews.

Now all this happened in Tunbridge Wells, so Jane and I had to sort out somewhere for Mass; and we went to St Augustine's, a large modern church where even for the first 'quiet' evening mass at 5.30 on Saturday there were a hundred or so of us present. The celebrant was a Nigerian priest, and the preacher a Deacon. He spoke about Christian Unity, but seemed to have the impression that the Ordinariate was a symptom of division in the Catholic Church. I tried to reassure him after Mass that this was the very reverse of the truth.

Since we are in Unity Week, we thought we should visit an Anglican Church, and hit on that typical middle-of-the road C of E parish church, St Barnabas' (proprietor, the Revd Ed Tomlinson). His Hon Assistant, who is also Chaplain to the Guards (and a lawyer to boot) celebrated, and Fr Ed preached. It was very good meeting old friends afterwards over Birthday Cake and wine, celebrating Margaret's 18th (or had Fr E misheard and was it actually her 80th?) In reality, she looked about halfway between the two. Here is Fr Ed discussing the finer points of his phone; which, you may be surprised to learn, takes photographs. Finally, to cheer everyone up, here is another version of the master blogger smiling to camera, with his follow priest modestly in the background. They have taken quite a battering over recent weeks, and it is good to see them holding up so well; but most of the congregation are hugely supportive and (as I learned in conversation with several of them) very ready to make the step which Jane and I took last week and accept the Holy Father's offer.