Random musings on the great outdoors
Bristol: Traffic fears raised in Almondsbury as plans for 21-acre solar farm are submitted
Devon and Cornwall: Green spaces under pressure as housing demand increases
UK: Greenbelt building approvals threaten British rural landscapes
UK: Research reveals sharp increase in building on greenbelt land
UK: Home building on green belt land has soared since 2010
Wimbourne: 650 house development on former greenbelt will be “new town”, warn campaigners
Durham: MPs urge Minister to help get ‘vital’ County Durham Plan back on track
North East: Up to 70,000 homes pledged by Government ‘would not fit on region’s brownfield’
It was all the fault of Ponteland. I was driving through on my way to the Borders when I saw a large outcrop of estate agent signs. Except they weren’t, they were Save Our Greenbelt signs. Now, I am familiar with saving the greenbelt campaigns because we live in a beautiful part of the North Downs which is equally threatened by the attack on the greenbelt caused by the governments housing targets.
A flash of the blinding obvious was that all the work we were doing was being duplicated across the country by other local groups. It will be beyond anyone to co-ordinate these groups but we thought there should at least be a place on the web where we could all find each other and later a place where we could exchange good practice, thoughts and news.
The greenbelt is one our most precious common spaces. It was created to prevent developer driven sprawl and as a green lung for our major cities. It is important to everyone not just to those of us who are lucky enough to live in it. But we who live here have a special responsibility as guardians of these special places. The pressures we face are very similar wherever we live in the UK. We can all learn from each other.
I was invited to go on the Today programme on the radio some years ago to talk about keeping warm in winter in the UK. I think they were expecting me to talk about wearing down jackets but I didn’t (and they didn’t use it either).
What I did say was that there were three rules to keeping warm when outdoors in the UK, in this order:
1. Keep active
2. Protect yourself from the wind
3. Wear insulated clothing under a windproof layer
The reality of keeping warm and the experience of it is complicated.
· Women, according to research by the US Army feel the cold 5 degrees more than men, though in fact women are (generally) better insulated
· Heat loss varies in different areas of the body – if you are not being very active you need insulation on your thighs for instance and those of us who are follically challenged know the importance of keeping your head warm
· Changes in temperature are very important in perception – go out at 0 degrees and you will feel cold, touch something metal and you will feel freezing
· Humidity is fundamental as well. We don’t need science to tell us that in the UK
It’s really not difficult to keep warm in the UK- in the mountains it’s different but here……..
I went walking in the Austrian Alps last week with my wife, my fourteen year old son and twenty HF customers.
In his book Thinking, fast and slow Daniel Kahnemann makes the point that an easy swinging walk enables you to think about something else and an active walk forces you to concentrate on the act of walking. I live on the North Downs in Surrey. My favourite short walk is from my house, down off the hill, over Albury Heath, through Winterfold Forest and down onto the Weald at Cranleigh. The walk takes me through a 4,000 year old landscape past Mesolithoic remains, a Romano-British temple and along a Roman road. This is a thinking walk.
Mayerhofen was completely different. It rained most of the time but when the cloud broke or, better, when we walked above it you could see majestic, impossible peaks. We walked through wildflower meadows, over raging streams, along stony trails listening to the calls of marmots (though I never saw one).
Each day we started walking at five thousand feet and went up (and down) around fifteen hundred. The air was pure and thin and the walking was the most demanding I had done for twenty years. In all we walked about fifty miles and climbed about six thousand feet. I have walked all over the UK from the South West Coast path to the Highland Way but this was truly different. Not just for the scenery but for the demands it makes.
Being me the best part was stopping. But the places we stopped were amazing. If you have never walked in Austria I can recommend the “huts”. These are unlike anything in the UK, really simple restaurants serving pea soup with wurstel, cheese made in the farm behind the hut and that coffee that only the Austrians’ can make. We saw cattle grazing in well-ordered fields, people harvesting fodder by hand, huts supplied by helicopter. I don’t know how they afford it – eating and drinking at five thousand feet was not expensive but then this was the low season.