I knew it would happen eventually, he just needed time. Patience is a virtue we’re told, although like most humans, I seem to have less and less of it these days. In my defence, the modern world thrives on speed, we like instant comment, just-in-time delivery and fast food.
To reset my ‘always in a hurry’ mentality, occasionally I like to spend a few days meandering on Britain’s beautiful waterway system, you just can’t hurry at 3 mph. My favourite is the Oxford canal, completed in 1790, it was built to carry coal from the Warwickshire coalfields to Oxford and the River Thames. It was a huge success, until the more efficient railway replaced it 60 years later. Heading north from Oxford in a narrowboat, the railway criss-crosses your path, the two are intertwined for most of the 75-mile journey. These days, the far noisier 20th century M40 also intrudes a little, but still, some of Britain’s best scenery unfolds, and the canal banks are home to a rich variety of wildlife. Who needs to fly to the Serengeti when you have heron, deer and water voles, cows, horses and a few sheep? Switch off your mobile, banish those pesky texts, calls and emails. Good food and refreshment are easily found, TV’s Inspector Morse was filmed in some of the many pubs en-route, he and Lewis knew a decent pie and pint when they found one.
As the hours and miles slip effortlessly by, you’re struck by the tranquil beauty of the villages, Thrupp, Heyford and Cropredy are all good examples, built long ago from that beautiful honey coloured ironstone, but you do begin to wonder where everyone is? Are they all indoors self-isolating? You’ll see ramblers and dog walkers, but those lovely pubs are virtually empty. It would be ironic if the pandemic that brought out our community spirit then goes and destroys it by keeping us all apart.
The Government insists umpteen new homes need to be built in areas like these. Britain’s villages and towns must grow they insist, and we’re not talking about the odd barn conversion. They want large scale development on farmland, little boxes packed cheek by jowl with people living on top of each other. Without doubt this incomprehensible policy is a huge threat to our precious countryside, so how to stop it? Democracy should mean simply voting against it, but Oops, we elected a government hell bent on paving over vast swathes of countryside. And while we have to give up our countryside, they have an open door for the rest of the world. Last year 270,000 extra people moved to the UK – they’ve got to live somewhere. Does anybody think the two things might be connected?
It came as a huge relief to hear that the MP is firmly opposed to this mass-development nonsense locally. At last, my patience paid off, Bob’s got something right and it’s a 10 out of 10 from me, hurrah for Seely! On this one occasion, I will overlook the trivial detail that it’s his Conservative government imposing these potty building targets. We lack vital transport infrastructure; a full-service hospital and GP appointments are harder to find than a black cat in a coal cellar. Despite all that, people still want to buy here, local agents say demand for good homes is at an all-time high, with prices rising fast. Reassuringly, Bob’s ‘nothing to do with me Guv’ government claims every new home built is worth £500 a month to the local economy, but if that’s true, can we ask why Amazon seems to be doing so much better than Newport High Street?