Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Someone's left the gate open...

When I stand at the top of the hill I'm often tempted to break out into song, especially first thing in the morning when there's nobody else about.

Something along the lines of Woody Guthrie's 'This Land Is Your Land' but adapted to fit west Dorset.

'This land was made for you and me'.

Up the top, this land belongs to The National Trust (so it is your land, and mine too) but, lower down, it belongs to the farmer. And whilst a footpath runs through it, which gives us the right to walk through the field, it doesn't give us the right to leave the gates open.

Respect, protect, enjoy - that's what the Countryside Code says.

I was up with the lark again this morning to find a herd of young cattle enjoying unfettered access to a newly-seeded field because some idiot had done just that.

It happens a lot during the school holidays, apparently.

I messaged the farmer from high up on the hill.

'Are the cattle meant to be in here?' I asked, sending him a photo. If only I knew the field names (now there's a local history project to get my teeth into) I could have given him a more accurate location.

'No they're not!' he replied, with some ripe, farming-type language thrown in for good measure.

'Well,' I messaged back. 'They seem to be having a bit of a party.'

'I'm on my way,' he said,

From up on the hill, the dog and I could hear cowboy-type whoops and hollers as the farmer yelled down in the field below, rounding up the cattle and bringing them back on the right side of the hedge.

The dog and I walked right to the top to look out across the vale, to check if the sea was still in the distance. And then we made our way back down, the cattle now back in the correct field and staring at us like teenagers whose illicit activity had been cut short.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Silence on the hill now that the squirrel shooters have gone

 Up on the hill on Valentine's Day, the sun is breaking through the mist.

It's magical up here at this time of the morning.

The dog's done her business (carefully picked up and bagged to drop off later) and she's now off snuffling around for deer and rabbits.

Grey squirrels scuttle through the top branches of the beech trees, like flying foxes in a David Attenborough wildlife programme.

A few weeks ago, there were mystery huntsmen up here on a Sunday morning, shooting in trees at the squirrels which, in many rural quarters, are considered fluffy-tailed vermin, having invaded our land and practically wiped out their protected Squirrel Nutkin red cousins.

It's not illegal to kill them but only if it's done humanely, and you have to have the landowner's permission to shoot on their land.

The guns' activity spooked the dog, who ran off to find out what was going on. She came back later and I found out that a fellow dog walker from the village had seen her and thought she was something to do with the hunters, who got short shrift for shooting on National Trust land.

It came out in a conversation we had in the snow when the dog ran off to jump up at a snowman and ate its carrot nose. I wish I'd got a picture of that but she was just too quick.

Here's one of a snow scene up on the hill instead.

But there's no sign of the hunters today, no sign of anyone. It's just me and the dog.

Through the trees, I can see the flat top of Langdon Wood and Golden Cap rising above the mist like the land in Narnia.

On our way back down the hill, I can see the vapour trail of an aeroplane heading for the sunrise.  Despite our solitude, we are not alone.

That's about it.

Love Maddie x

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