Countryside

Perfectly Refined

The Sunday Telegraph (April 24, 2011)

The Pediment in Northamptonshire is a display of British classical style at its best…

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A Lesson in How to Grow Up Naturally
The Daily Telegraph (March 30, 2011)

BBC presenter Kate Humble is right to say that children need to know more about the countryside…

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Will the Gypsy King Lose His Palace?
The Daily Telegraph (March 26, 2011)

Battle commenced in court this week as villagers tried to remove some unwelcome invaders who arrived illegally over a bank holiday weekend…

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Food Parcels – and a Country in Crisis
The Daily Telegraph (March 16, 2011)

A recent jump in emergency supplies being handed out in Okehampton underlines the problem faced by those struggling to make a living from the lush fields that surround this Devon town…

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At Last, It’s the Moment Ardent Gardeners Have Been Waiting For
The Daily Telegraph (March 12, 2011)

A fierce horticultural battle is over with the publication of this year’s Yellow Book…

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Could All This Be Gone in the Blink of an Eye?
The Daily Telegraph (March 2, 2011)

No youth dub, no pub and a library under threat… a small Suffolk town is in danger of losing its identity…

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‘So, Where’s Your Local Starbucks?’
The Daily Telegraph (February 26, 2011)

In a new TV series, urban families try to adapt to village life…

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The Great Wind Farm Windfall
The Daily Telegraph (February 22, 2011)

With inducements worth thousands, it’s little wonder that Northamptonshire villagers have embraced turbines. But at what price?

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Glum Faces in God’s Country
The Daily Telegraph (January 22, 2011)

A high-speed rail link that will cut through Earl Spencer’s manor has left villagers feeling angry and betrayed…

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Save Our Ancient Forests
The Express (January 27, 2011)

A proposal to sell off Britain’s forests has caused alarm but is preserving woodland always incompatible with commerce?

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Desolation and Delight; Just an Hour from London, Tranquillity Awaits
The Daily Telegraph (January 22, 2011)

The south-east of England is one of the most crowded areas of Europe and yet it can still spring surprises…

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How Can We Feed 9 Billion?
The Daily Telegraph (January 14, 2011)

The world’s population is set to soar in the coming decades — but food supplies are already under pressure. Meanwhile, Britain and Europe have turned their backs on a great agricultural revolution…

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Frosty Reception (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (January 8, 2011)

Just before Christmas I was up in front of the Beak, in an attempt to overturn a speeding ticket. As my train rumbled along to Leamington Spa, I felt I was looking at a landscape under moonlight…

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A Winter Safari Is a Riot of Colour
The Daily Telegraph (December 30, 2010)

A hard winter has led to more animals hibernating, but there is still a glorious amount of wildlife to see — from haunting curlews, and pink-legged gulls, to flamboyant chaffinches…

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O Little Town of Bethlehem in the Snowy Welsh Hills
The Daily Telegraph (December 18, 2010)

On a pilgrimage to Wales, Clive Aslet visits a village with a unique postmark that is much in demand in the run-up to Christmas

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Time to Power Up the Big Society (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (December 4, 2010)

Sorting out rural broadband connectivity will take hard cash as well as good intent

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Suddenly, We’re Adrift in a Magical Land
The Daily Telegraph (December 1, 2010)

We hear a lot about broken pipes and breakdowns, but there’s also something sublime about our wintry landscape.

We look out of the window and what do we see? Snow…

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So I Was Right (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (November 6, 2010)

Lunch was at the The William Bray in Shere, a pub now owned by Julian Bailey, a former racing driver. Local lamb – although not local duck – was eaten beneath photographs of Jackie Stewart and James Hunt…

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Affluence or Deprivation? I Know Which I’d Prefer for Our Villages
The Daily Telegraph (November 5, 2010)

As the Church has noticed, the countryside is changing – but largely for the better…

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Sounds Like a Beet and Three Veg
The Daily Telegraph (October 16, 2010)

Pumpkins did not feature much in my childhood. As far as I was concerned, Cinderella’s coach might just as well have been made from a medicine ball…

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Our Amazing Villages
The Express

They are usually centuries-old communities but even today remain the heartbeat of rural Britain where many of us dream of living. And as a new book reveals, some of them have remarkable stories…

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Beauty of the British Village
The Express (October 7, 2010)

They are the oldest human settlements and have shaped the character of our nation. A fascinating new book tells the story of villages in this county – and how modern-day residents are fighting to save them for future generations…

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Right on Target
The Daily Telegraph (October 2, 2010)

This week, the BBC is taking me to the field in Suffolk where Gainsborough painted the National Gallery’s Mr and Mrs Andrews. With the sitters placed on the far left side of the canvas, the right gives a view of the Andrews’ estate, farmed in the most up-to-date manner…

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Smart Pubs Claw Their Way Back Into Black
The Daily Telegraph (October 2, 2010)

The other day, a report into country pubs said that they were closing in droves. My impression, having done my bit to support the trade while touring the length and breadth of Britain for my book, Villages of Britain, is that some very good ones are opening up…

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Blessed Are the British Cheese Makers
The Daily Telegraph (September 23, 2010)

Booming exports prove how much we’ve matured since the days of the awful Lymeswold

Ruskin used to say that he couldn’t live in the United States because it was a land without castles. Me, I couldn’t live there because of the cheese…

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Foraging (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (September 18, 2010)

 

At the end of August, I passed a family collecting sloes. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that they were too early; accepted wisdom has it that sloes aren’t worth much until October, and old hands won’t pick them before the first frost. Blackberries are a different matter. Blackberrying ought to be part of the national curriculum…

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Seaside Idyll Far from Idle (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (September 4, 2010)

 

It is the week of the Ramsgate Regatta and the sails on the horizon are pricking the milky underbelly of the sky like thorns. Yachts, though, are not the only craft to be seen here.

Towering above the harbour wall comes the great bulk of the Larkspur, one of the ferries sailing the route to Ostend…

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Raised in a Barn (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (August 21, 2010)

I used not to like barn conversions: all too often they seemed to be a means of sneaking a house into an area of countryside where houses would not otherwise have been given planning permission. And yet very little of the character of the original barn survived, once it was surrounded by patios and begonias. I have, however, recanted since visiting friends in Whitstable…

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The Mystery That Keeps Us Going Round in Circles
The Daily Telegraph (August 19, 2010)

Natural phenomenon, elaborate hoax – or a sign from God? Wiltshire locals think they have the answer.

‘Look, there’s one with birds in it,” I say excitedly into my microphone. Only as the helicopter whirrs closer do I see that the specks of colour dotting the shape in the cornfield below are not avian, but human figures in rainwear. Perhaps it is an angel with fanning wings, perhaps it is a cup and ball on a stick; the form is certainly new…

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Country Folk Are Doing it for Themselves
The Daily Telegraph (August 16, 2010)

An age-old community spirit is coming in handy for many villages facing savage cuts

Chill winds are blowing in the countryside, and they’re nothing to do with the autumnal weather. For 13 years, activists have been telling the world that Labour had no sympathy for the rural population – indeed, viewed it, in some cases, with malevolence. Now they are realising that things weren’t so bad after all…

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Neptune’s Gift Goes to Rot
The Daily Telegraph (August 14, 2010)

A wonderful natural resource is being left to waste because it doesn’t measure up

If you want to find me this month, try the beach huts at Dumpton Gap. I can’t rise to the heights of actually owning one, but my friend Veronica has kindly said we can use hers…

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Cycling Off Lashings of Cream (Country Diary)
The Daily Telegraph (August 7, 2010)

The great migration has taken place and we are in Ramsgate for the summer. There were many reasons why we bought a house in this Regency-looking (although mostly early Victorian) watering place: the architecture, the sands, the Waitrose…

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Trevalga’s Last Stand
The Daily Telegraph (July 31, 2010)

An idyllic Cornish village is now up for sale at £10 million, and hears from angry locals who fear not only the loss of their homes, but an end to a unique way of life

‘We’re not in the time of the Plantagenets,” explodes Peter Pracownik. ”It’s the 21st century, for Chrissake.” Looking out of the window of Trevalga Manor, you wouldn’t know it…

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This Talk of Wind Farms Is So Much Hot Air
The Daily Telegraph (July 26, 2010)

 

The Lib Dems’ championing of alternative energy will leave us all in the dark

It is always a joy to travel around the most beautiful parts of Britain, particularly those wild and mountainous counties that make a special appeal to our national sense of romanticism and the picturesque. But for the past couple of months, reason has made that pleasure all the greater…

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A Grown-Up Village Fête
The Daily Telegraph (July 17, 2010)

Shopping and hunting: why the great CLA Game Fair is every countryman’s dream

The glory of the British summer is upon us: the CLA Game Fair, this year to be held at Ragley Hall, in the very heart of England. The Game Fair is what village fêtes become when they grow up…

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A Land Shaped by History and Millionaires
The Daily Telegraph (July 2, 2010)

We are lucky that there are still people who can afford to cherish our countryside

In 1986, The Spectator asked me to write a piece on London houses which had been in the same family since 1914. When I accepted, I thought it would be a breeze. It turned out to be nothing of the sort: despite all my research, I managed to find a mere four properties, all of which have changed hands since…

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No Light at the End of Old Moley’s Tunnel
The Daily Telegraph (June 15, 2010)

Following the strychnine ban, traditional molecatchers are making a comeback

Some years ago, I was sitting on the bench of a Suffolk garden, enjoying the sunshine, when a harsh reality of country life obtruded itself on to the scene. The mole catchers had arrived, looking like a couple of Shakespearean rustics…

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It’s Time to Clear Foxes from Our Streets
The Daily Telegraph (June 8, 2010)

The horrific mauling of two babies must herald an all-out offensive against these predators

I was wondering when it would happen. As everyone who lives in London and other cities around Britain will know, urban foxes are now commonplace…

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Dark Clouds Ahead in the Countryside?
The Daily Telegraph (June 7, 2010)

The predicted increase in capital gains tax will have a devastating effect on second-home owners -and the communities that depend on them

It is eight o’clock on a sunny Thursday morning, and the village of Burnham Market on the north Norfolk coast has already opened one eye. A local farmer is delivering asparagus to Gurney’s, the fishmonger. Apricot-washed and pantiled, Grooms Bakery is fragrant with the smell of croissants…

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Villages Are Bled Dry by the Price of Petrol
The Daily Telegraph (June 2, 2010)

The high cost of running a car is speeding up rural decline

For the past three years, I have been driving the length and breadth of the countryside looking for villages. It is an activity that will, I suspect, be pursued by large numbers of people this summer, preferring to escape the perils of volcanic ash clouds, striking cabin crews and unhealthy exchange rates by holidaying at home…

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Taking Pride in Surfing the Turf
The Daily Telegraph (June 1, 2010)

Englishmen love mowing the lawn – a pursuit that has its roots in the 18th century

A few weeks ago, my eldest son, William, and I struggled to get the lawnmower going. He has just turned 15; it was a rite of passage…

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It’s An Uphill Struggle
The Sunday Telegraph (May 23, 2010)

In the first of a series highlighting the plight of Britain’s countryside, Clive Aslet discovers the hardship suffered by our traditional upland farmers…

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My Name Is Clive, and I Used to Be an Organoholic…
The Daily Telegraph (May 20, 2010)

But I’m all right now.

After years of chemical-free eating, Clive Aslet admits that he has given up organic produce in favour of cheaper, local and even (whisper it) intensively reared food…

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An Englishman’s Second Home Is Not a Castle
The Daily Telegraph (May 18, 2010)

Of all people, a Tory PM should stand up for the property rights of the middle classes

A couple of years ago, a columnist for The Guardian called me the most selfish man in Britain. I wouldn’t presume to doubt his thesis, only the grounds on which he made the accusation: we have a second home…

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Unhappy Landings on the Marsh
The Daily Telegraph (May 1, 2010)

Plans for an international airport at England’s south-eastern tip would desecrate a unique and strangely beautiful landscape

‘London Asford Airport is the environmentally acceptable solution to runway congestion in the South East,” announces the website. “Daily flights to Le Touquet.” Quite. If only the airport formerly known as Lydd did confine its ambitions to hopping over the English Channel to agreeable watering holes in northern France, it might conceivably justify its environmental boast…

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Change the Path? Tess and family wouldn’t have approved
The Times (May 1, 2010)

Hands off this little corner of literary Britain

In the age of 4x4s and antique shops, Thomas Hardy’s Wessex may not look exactly as it did when the novelist was writing at the end of the 19th century. Even to Hardy’s generation, the world had moved on: he was remembering the church bands and dialect of his youth rather than the bustling, industrial present…

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Anyone for Stuffed Glis Glis or Parakeet Pie?
The Daily Telegraph (April 6, 2010)

One way to rid our shores of pesky dormice, grey squirrels and their ilk is to eat them…

Take shelter, run for the Tardis: we’re being invaded. Aliens have arrived in the countryside, and they’re eating our apples. First came the unstoppable Japanese knotweed. Then Squirrel Nutkin and his friends were driven northwards by the oversexed North American grey. Now prepare to meet a new threat to the ecosystem – glis glis, the fat or edible dormouse…

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The Plants That Come Back From the Dead
The Daily Telegraph (March 25, 2010)

The survival of the starved wood sedge is a cause for celebration…

Something wonderful happened yesterday. For half a century or more, I have been part of this planet’s great ecosystem, breathing the oxygen exhaled by plants and trees of all kinds; yet never once had I encountered the starved wood sedge…

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Britain Should Lead the Way in GM Research
The Times (January 7, 2010)

The other day I received a message from the Prince of Wales. He objected to a comment I had made about GM crops, when I called his stance bonkers…

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We Need To Grow More Food
The Daily Telegraph (January 6, 2010)

At last a minister says it: we need to grow more food…

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What Our Country Needs Is ‘Slow Water’ – And Less Concrete
The Daily Telegraph (November 24, 2009)

How to reduce flooding

ENGLAND is a green and pleasant land that is generally well provided with water. But as the catastrophe in Cumbria amply demonstrates, managing that provision is no easy task…

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Passions Run High in the Vegetable Beds
The Daily Telegraph (September 2, 2009)

The cult of giant vegetables

In Wallace and Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit, it was the depredations of an oversized bunny that threatened to disrupt the vegetable show. Now police are seeking another saboteur, thought also to move on two legs but with smaller ears…

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One Man’s Ambition To Go Wild
Written February 17, 2009

A reduced version of this piece was published in the Daily Telegraph (May 30, 2009)

Paul Lister’s vision for the Highlands of Scotland

A few minutes into the interview, Paul Lister removes his walking boots, followed by his thick socks.  ‘I do apologise,’ he says after yawning extravagantly. ‘It’s been a busy week.’  We are at Alladale, Paul’s 23,000 acre estate in the Highland, where he has become famous for his plans to introduce wolves, bears and lynx…

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April Is No Longer Apple Blossom Time
The Times (April 25, 2009)

The disappearance of British orchards

This morning I rumbled on a slow train through Kent, once famous for its hop fields and orchards. It is the season of apple blossom, and I hoped to see Samuel Palmer-ish trees, heaped up with it like meringue. But I hoped in vain…

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Country People Got Over the Affront and Carried On
The Times (February 5, 2009)

Implementation of the Hunting Act

Before the Hunting Act was passed by Westminster four years ago, I thought that England and Wales were about to suffer an apocalypse. Politicians were oppressing a minority, without having taken much trouble to find out about the sport – nay, the way of life – they were banning…

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Country Folk Will Make the Best of Hard Times
The Daily Telegraph  (January 7, 2009)

Getting through the Recession

There is no such thing as bad weather, goes an old country saying, only bad clothing. That must be why the organisers of the Oxford Farming Conference chose to mount it in a marmoreal Victorian building, the Examination Halls, at the beginning of January…

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Welcome to the Country PLC
The Sunday Telegraph (June 8, 2008)

What country estates become brands

The Earl of March is worried about his hotel. It is a perfectly nice hotel: Marriott, which used to run it, has been kicked out, the ultra-chic Gordon Campbell Gray, of One Aldwych and Carlisle Bay in Antigua, has been brought in, but it hasn’t yet scaled the pinnacle of excellence that has become the Goodwood hallmark…

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Fields of Gold
The Daily Telegraph (May 17, 2008)

Farming looks up

You won’t need telling that 2008 has not been a particularly jolly year for property. According to Henry Pryor, of online property portal Primelocation.com, the price of an average house is falling by pounds 1,000 a week. But one part of the market is bucking the trend: farmland (with, of course, farmhouse)…

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Our Countryside Is Rapidly Turning the Colour of Money
The Sunday Telegraph (April 27, 2008)

After a decade of depression, farming picks itself up off the floor

There is a point on the M40 when you emerge from a cutting in the Chilterns and the Oxfordshire plain is rolled out in front of you like a carpet. Feathery trees, sappy green fields, a yellow dusting of rape – it seemed to ooze fertility when I drove westwards during the week. But it wasn’t the onset of spring that impressed me, so much as the thought of what this view costs…

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This Year, Your Countryside Needs You
The Daily Telegraph (April 9, 2008)

Children shouldn’t (only) be townies

This could be the year that the balance of the world changes. Whereas the bulk of the global population used to live in rural areas, very soon more than 50 per cent of the human race will dwell in towns…

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Prince Aims To Slay This Land’s Giant Problem
The Sunday Telegraph (February 24, 2008)

Meeting the challenge of affordable housing

Jack is still living with Dame Busybody, or he was a few weeks ago in the pantomime I saw in West Hanney Memorial Hall. “What else do you expect with the price of houses round here?” he asked the audience, to applause…

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Children’s Parties in the Age of Paintball

How can a parent keep up?

What is the difference between 13 (my son’s age) and 53 (mine)?   One answer is paintballing.  If you’re 13 and it’s your birthday, the experience may be the best thing to have taken place in your life so far.  If you’re 53 – well, for some adults, it seems to be much more serious than that, requiring them to dress up like members of the Parachute Regiment and behaving like Rambo…

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Watch the Basket Case Become the Breadbasket
The Sunday Telegraph (January 6, 2008)

Farming gets off its knees

The reviving tea that I sip while writing this article is contained in a mug that an East Anglian farmer gave me last year. It is emblazoned with a record of the 2007 harvest, yields per hectare for wheat, oilseed rape and beans. The harvest was not a bumper one; the terrible rains knocked some of it on the head. But a commemorative mug is made every year, in the spirit of those Georgian agriculturalists who gathered for sheep shearings and commissioned paintings of egregiously fat pigs…

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Trouble in Paradise
The Sunday Telegraph (November 18, 2007)

Locals are priced out of the property market by second homers

The village of Portscatho, on the Roseland peninsula, in Cornwall, is en fête. The regatta committee is out, attaching bunting to pub signs and lamp posts. The sun is out, too, and boats bob in the harbour…

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Heaven and Hell in the Countryside
The Daily Telegraph (November 17, 2007)

Joyriding teenagers, drugs, unemployment: England’s idyllic village life is under threat… possibly…

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The Hunt is On. Still
The Sunday Telegraph (November 4, 2007)

Two years after the hated ban, hunting is more popular – and more colourful – than ever…

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We Don’t Need This Obscene Slaughter
The Sunday Telegraph (October 14, 2007)

Give the French their ‘light lamb’

Good heavens, it’s nearly half term already. Earlier this week, I rustled ankle-deep in fallen leaves as I walked through Sherwood Forest. Yet wasn’t it only the other day that I was playing football with the children at 9 o’clock in the evening? You can’t help being nostalgic for the summer, and never more so than this year…

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When the Wind Stopped…
The Sunday Telegraph (October 7, 2007)

On the night of October 15, 1987 southern England was devastated by the Great Storm.

Twenty years ago, colleagues were in mourning. It was not that the Great Storm, sweeping in from the Channel Islands, had driven a Channel ferry aground, or torn the roofs from houses like Christmas wrapping paper from a toy. In the Country Life office, the ancients were lamenting the disappearance of landscapes they had known since youth…

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We Must Stop These Four-Legged Foreigners
The Daily Telegraph (October 4, 2007)

Britain is invaded by non-native species

Forget the Tory party conference. Wipe snap elections from your minds. The subject of the moment is squirrels. The British are famously potty about animals, but there is nothing that so much divides us as the manner in which our love of wildlife is expressed…

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Green and Desperate Land
The Sunday Telegraph (September 16, 2007)

Rural Britain, reeling from a series of disasters, is yet again fighting foot and mouth disease.

Surrey is the English miracle. Last week it looked its best as the sun of an Indian summer warmed the towers of Bargate stone churches, raked village greens and sparkled on the balustrades of bridges so narrow that you have to reverse back over them when the rubbish lorry approaches from the opposite direction…

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It’s Up To You Now, Gordon
The Daily Telegraph (August 11, 2007)

Despite the current outbreak of foot and mouth disease, farming in Britain has a bright future – if only the Government would rethink its attitude

Readers, tether me to a mountainside and leave me to perish. Last week, in these pages, I wrote that despite floods and other quasi-Biblical plagues, farming was beginning to emerge from the figurative Seven Lean Years (actually, about double that) it had been suffering. My words could hardly have been worse timed…

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Defra Should Hang Its Head in Shame
The Daily Telegraph (August 6, 2007)

Ministry of incompetence

‘We have tried to phone Defra but we just can’t get through,” David Sheppard, who runs the Surrey farm next to the one infected with foot and mouth, was quoted as saying yesterday. Here we go again, I thought…

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After More Than Seven Lean Years, the Fat Years Are on Their Way
The Daily Telegraph (August 4, 2007)

Farming is recovering, despite floods

There is something Biblical about modern farming. The waters of the flood have been upon the earth of Gloucestershire – yea, Tewkesbury had become an island. Bird flu has smitten the turkeys of Suffolk. Cattle, well-favoured and fat-fleshed, have consorted with badgers and their herds have been blighted by TB…

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Build Cheap Homes to Save Our Villages
The Daily Telegraph (February 8, 2007)

The countryside needs more low-cost housing…

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Farmer Giles and the Elephant Grass
The Times (January 6, 2007)

Food for thought for future Archers scriptwriters

Brian Aldridge in The Archers is apt to miss the Oxford farming conference, using it as a cover for dalliance with Siobhan. He would have done well to have attended on Thursday. Much of the day was devoted to an alarmingly matter-of-fact discussion about what the countryside of the future -the near future perhaps – will be like as farmers adapt to new conditions…

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How Cameron Can Save the Countryside
The Daily Telegraph (January 4, 2007)

Ideas for a Tory rural policy

It’s amazing what awful truths politicians can let slip without meaning to. Yesterday, in the course of an innocuous speech to the Oxford Farming Conference, David Cameron observed that the Common part of the Common Agricultural Policy has ceased to apply to the United Kingdom…

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It’s Getting Cooler in the Country
Sunday Times (August 12, 2001, Sunday)

The Shires are, like, hip

Earlier this year saturation reporting of the foot and mouth crisis gave the impression that rural Britain had become a wasteland. Was it likely that anyone would go there again? Now, by a quirk of fashion, the coin has flipped…

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