Everything seems to be growing rapidly and all at once, which is helpful, particularly for the spring sown crops which have responded well to the damp ground and frequent showers.
We are generally nervous about spring crops on our heavy weald clay as so often April and May can be so dry. This turns our ground quickly to concrete resulting in poor germination. It is good to see crops flourishing this year and fields turning rapidly green.
Some grass has already gone to seed, and the winter barley is well in ear. The straw is short but hopefully that is a good sign that it needs to be sturdy to hold up a heavy yield. So far things are looking promising.
The bluebells continue to give much pleasure to the many visitors who come eager to visit the ‘magic’ wood. The children in particular are filled with awe and wonder by the carpet of blue, and as they spot the odd pixie or Leprechaun lurking in the shadows.
The Sussex steers will be turned out to grass this week. The fences are now checked and secure and the grass has grown enough to keep ahead of them. The spectacle of the cattle charging out into the fields after a long winter, is wonderful to watch. As they kick their heels comically in the air like a bunch of spring lambs, their joy in feeling the turf beneath their hooves is plain for all to see.
The grass is growing where the soil was disturbed by the ground works. The damp warm weather last week has encouraged the seed to rapidly germinate. So hopefully by the beginning of June when we have our first wedding, everything will once again be lush and green and not look like a building site.
Last week I ventured into London for unavoidable meetings. The streets of the capital were crammed to bursting with people walking due to the underground strike, and the roads stationary due to the ensuing congestion, and tempers were frayed.
The capital is full to busting with overseas visitors. There are apparently more tourists in town than there have been for decades. This it seems is a continuing legacy of the very successful Olympic Games, a welcome boost for the many businesses which service these visitors. The hotels are full, restaurants overflowing, and theatres are packed night after night. All this has to be good for the economy, and one can hope Mr Osborne is ensuring these tourists are paying a small levy to the treasury for the privilege of visiting our shores.
These visitors are surely as baffled as we are by the reason for the tube strike. Over sixty percent of the ticket office staff who will lose their present jobs as the system enters the twenty first century, have already asked for voluntary redundancy, and the rest will find alternative positions.
There is therefore really no excuse for putting the public, including the three million people trying to get to work, through the inconvenience this strike has caused, and the loss of income faced by businesses, and workers who fail to make it to work. Let’s hope the talks arranged this week in place of a repeat performance, ends this fiasco.
The one bright spot is that while walking through London above ground rather than travelling below as normal, there is the opportunity to take in the extraordinary beauty of the many traditional buildings, and iconic tourist spots.
However, as I made my way into Hyde Park past Apsley House I was saddened to notice that ‘Queen Elizabeth Gate’, a set of six stainless steel and bronze gates designed by Giusseppe Lund, in honour of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, are not weathering well.
They were fairly ghastly and a huge disappointment when first unveiled in 1993 by The Queen, but now look even more dingy and sad.
The gates have certainly not improved with age, they are a miserable and inadequate memorial to the late Queen Mother. I think they would be more at home had they been placed at the entrance to Elvis’s Graceland mansion in Miami. No doubt there are many who would disagree, fortunately we don’t all have the same taste.
Carola Godman Irvine