Monday, 19 September 2011

A Holiday in France

Just returned from a week on the Ile de Re - a largish Island just off the French coast by La Rochelle.  Some thought on the French and France:

1) Although the French are extremely greedy and seem to eat a lot I hardly saw a fat one -why? is it genetics?

2) Why is it that a new bungalow in the UK -or any bungalow in the UK for that matter - is an architectural excrescence upon the earth while a bungalow in France seamlessly fits into the landscape? - could it be something to do with the fact that the French continue to use traditional materials and do not have a love affair with 'picture windows' and PVC. 

3) We Brits wear our scruffiest and most comfortable clothes at the beach - but the French - both male and female - seemed to have taken great care on their holiday outfits and invested a lot of money in them.

4) The beaches on the Ile de Re are marvellous enormous expanses of sand - yet I saw no one making a sand castle? no one playing beach cricket - not even beach French cricket - in fact no one doing anything except lying in the sun.

5) France is bloody expensive. Even my wife recoiled in horror when idly browsing in a clothes shop. While as for the houses if you think prices in Rock in Cornwall or Salcombe in Devon are pricey -wise up -prices on the Ile de Re are stratospheric.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Racism is alive and well in our woodlands

Why is it right to celebrate the ethnic diversity of our human population but wrong to celebrate ethnic diversity in our woodlands? I asked that question of the Chief Executive of the Woodland Trust at the recent South West Woodland Show and she was unable to come up with an answer.  She is adamant that all 'exotic' species - for which read coniferous trees - should be felled, when grown on sites which are deemed to be Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ancient being pre 1660), and replaced by 'Native Broadleaves.'   Now hang on a moment what is 'native' in our country? Wheat, barley and maize certainly aren't yet no one seems to think that we should stop rowing these crops on our farmland while weirdly the hated rhododendron Ponticum appears to have been present in these island before the first Ice Age as pollen from it has been found in peat bogs in Ireland, so maybe we should be encouraging it rather than grubbing it up?

Sadly people like the Woodland Trust are in favour of the 'disneyfication' of the countryside and pay lip service only to 'sustainabliltiy of our forest and woodlands. So what is the definition of sustainable woods? Woods which are profitable and are managed .The definition of well managed woodland is one where the trees are regularly thinned and thus light is let on the forest floor encouraging all sorts of bio diversity to take place. Sadly too many of the woodlands owned by the Woodland Trust,and the National Trust for that matter, are 'slum woods' untouched by human hands and thus worthless to both wildlife and the rural economy.