The ground is still water logged, and despite the very welcome longer daylight hours, it still feels like winter.
On our heavy weald clay, notwithstanding the occasional respite of a sunny day warming our backs, it is still impossible to think about venturing onto our fields with a tractor. If you don’t get stuck up to the axels and need towing out, the damage to the soil structure, and deep ruts have long-term repercussions.
Our frustration is growing as we move towards mid- March, and are keen to top dress the bits of winter barley which have survived the winter. And the grass fields badly need harrowing and rolling before the grass starts growing.
Farmers wishing to attempt to get some spring crops into the ground, unless on light easy-drain soil, will be lucky to do so for at least another month, depending on when it does eventually stop raining.
As for the garden, if anyone has a small flock of obedient sheep which would graze the lawns without straying onto the flower beds, feel free to contact me. I have never seen the grass so long and abundant.
It is disappointing to note that the South Downs National Park Authority has been caught working against the best interest of land owners and the local community near Winchester. This is related to a summer music festival to be held on a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) where in previous years, according to the report in The Sunday Telegraph, the events hosted by a company called Boomtown saw four drug-related deaths.
Local campaigners are deeply concerned that the SDNPA have ‘offered behind-the-scenes support’, to the site owners, which resulted in permission to expand the number of people attending the event, on what is considered an unsuitable venue. This year the event will be attended by up to 76,999 people.
The SDNPA appear to support such events which attract increasingly large numbers from outside the region, at all costs. This particular event which will be staged over five days on a ‘green field site’, and the organisers call a ‘city’, covers approximately 503 hectares.
A spokesman for SDNPA said: “National planning policy requires that planning officers should work positively with any and every planning applicant. This applies across the entire country.” I wish!!
I have to admit it has been hard but over the past week I have trained myself and indeed others, to stop shaking hands and hugging. Old habits die hard as one’s automatic reaction is to stretch out a hand to warmly welcome, or embrace friends and family.
We should now all be on Corvid – 9 alert, and must take sensible and easy precautions. It is clear to me that some are embarrassed and feel awkward changing habits of a lifetime – Do not be. By taking this small step towards protecting yourself and others, as well as thinking carefully before venturing out ‘into the community’, we will do our small part in containing the spread of this virus which clearly is highly contagious.
The message as I write, from Government, and its medical and scientific advisers, is ‘Don’t Panic and Carry On’, which could well change this week as things develop. As individuals and communities we must play our part by following advice and making sensible decisions.
A footnote on my trip to Dubai: For those many kind fans of my son Matthew, who have enquired if he qualified in Dubai for the World Championship IRONMAN 70.3, New Zealand, the answer is Yes! He and his trusty racing bike will be heading for Lake Taupo, North Island NZ, on 28/29 November 2020