Saturday, 4 January 2014

Above Sheepscombe

Being deprived by festivities of our last two Wednesday walks, we met at Foston's Ash yesterday morning, to shake away some cobwebs. The mud was our main prospective enemy, because of the terrific rainfall recently. (Our drawing-room alcove ceiling almost gave way: just in time, Edmund drilled holes to channel the water leaking in.)

To avoid the shooting at Climperwell, we walked towards Cranham and then leftwards into the beechwoods above Sheepscombe. Hard core has long been laid on the tracks there, providing a firm path for us as well as the forest machinery. This giraffe-like trunk caught my eye.

Delaying our start till a squall had passed, we then missed any more rain, and indeed the sun lit up the tree tops on our final stretch, through the woods that the late John Workman gave to the National Trust.

That is an organisation evidently not solicitous about its punctuation: "Workmans Wood" on one sign, and "Workman s Wood" on two others. Should one be surprised when one of its top brass sends us a family round robin displaying a similarly cavalier approach to the apostrophe rule?

Oh dear! Bang goes my New Year's resolution - to be less nerdish. It contrasts somewhat in scale with Ian Jack's. Writing in today's Guardian, he says:

New Year resolutions rarely see out February because they're born in a… wishy-washy sort of hope, too weak to resist the seduction of old habits. Fear, on the other hand, keeps you on the straight and narrow… Domesticated ruminants are the largest source of anthropogenic methane and account for 11.6% of greenhouse gases that can be attributed to human activity…The use of highly productive croplands to produce animal feed is [also] questionable on moral grounds because this contributes to exhausting the world's food supply. Other well-known consequences include tropical deforestation and the erosion of biodiversity, but unless governments intervene… it seems unlikely that the demand for animal flesh can be curbed. 

But which popularly elected government will ration meat or deliberately price it as a luxury?… 

Nonetheless, my resolution this year is to become a vegetarian… I doubt that I can stick to it. Where's the terror at three in the morning that will change my behaviour? A gale may be tearing over the house and a flood running down the street, but the link to a lifetime's mince consumption will be hard to fix in my imagination. When it comes to the bleak future of the world, the complicated route between cause and effect is the greatest barrier to our doing much to change it.

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