Sunday, 25 September 2011

crystal lemon, three horseshoes, batcombe, wildcru

Instead of cycling this morning, I went up to the allotment to do some digging and tidying. Taking advantage of the dry weather. Came back with lots of spinach, much of it self-set, some courgettes, a patty-pan squash, a round yellow cucumber (Crystal Lemon), some runner beans and carrots. Well, that should probably read 'the' carrot. Not a good year for carrots on our allotment...

Got back yesterday from a short break in Somerset. We stayed at the Three Horseshoes in Batcombe, just south-west of Frome. A very relaxing place to be, with good food, four delicious farm ciders and beautiful surrounding countryside to walk in (photos above).

Meanwhile, I was sad to read in the Times about a report from Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCru), which suggests that red squirrels could be extinct within twenty years and that hedgehog and Scottish wildcat populations are falling rapidly (only 400 wildcats are left and hedgehog numbers have fallen from 30m plus in the 1950s to 'well under 1m now').

The decline of the hedgehogs is blamed on 'pesticides and the destruction of the hedgerows and rough land on which they depend. Dormice and harvest mice have also been hit.'

The Times also reports that the 'destruction of habitat is affecting not just animals but the rural economy too, because it creates a monotonous countryside devoid of wildlife that discourages the walkers, birdwatchers and other recreational users whose spending is key to rural prosperity.'

To underline the importance of recreational users to the rural economy, the Times article points to the profits from farming amounting to £4.4 billion, whereas rural tourism 'generates sums estimated at between £70 billion and £80 billion a year across Britain.'

The report should be available on WildCru's website but when I tried to access it the link was broken.

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