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Pruning and Pillaging

The gate at the edge
The view West from Stockbridge Down
Sunshine yellow gorse
Gorse in flower up at Stockbridge Down

Posted by Deborah Courtnell

     There are Men At Work up at Stockbridge Down today. No doubt they are working on behalf of the National Trust which manages the 'chalk downland'. It just looks like they doing what men so love to do in the great outdoors: setting fires, chopping stuff down and generally laying waste. Pruning is the vestige of the Englishman's urge to pillage and plunder.

   I'm sure their big red digger and various bonfires and unearthing of warrens and flattening of hillocks and razing to the ground of thickets and briars, what the National Trust refers to as 'scrub', is all jolly good for the landscape and will make us all better people able to rejoice in the fact that the chalk downland now looks, well, like nothing more interesting or particular than a regular chalk downland.

   But I happen to like the rabbity paths and I will miss the hidden ways when they are gone and all that's left is a big exposed tract of bald featureless green, dull and bland as any suburban common.

17.02.2013

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