Sunday, 28 November 2010
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Friday, 26 November 2010
Now there is some talk about re-routing being planned along Whitelow Lane which will eventually enable the Blacka lines to be removed. We will not be celebrating just yet but are casually checking the champagne prices.
Wednesday, 24 November 2010
The result is that numerous pleasant little paths get spoiled and some of them get to the stage of being almost unusable for those on foot. The problem is that almost all organisations speaking for mountain bikers have a stated position that all footpaths should be available for bikers to ride on. Many claim to be responsible and keep to bridleways themselves but inevitably others are persuaded by the argument and don't see why they should wait for official sanction. The bikers' argument for riding on footpaths is just plain wrong. They themselves would not want other vehicles like motor bikes competing with them for the tracks they already ride on. The path coming from the top of Bole Hill and down around the side of Wimble Holme Hill has been ruined by biking - though blaming the bikers themselves for that may not be fair: some years ago it was designated a bridleway, presumably by a bureaucrat who had never seen it.
Tuesday, 23 November 2010
Sunday, 21 November 2010
So "let's hand the assets over to the people" - is that what it is? Well, no it isn't. Somebody up there within Big Government will be making the decision who qualifies as able to run the Big Society projects. And who will they choose? Guess who? National Nature Reserves will be likely to be run not by local people or small scale groups well represented by local users who know the Nature Reserves well - a true community empowerment project, but instead by mega-charities like RSPB and National Trust and Wildlife Trusts - all huge organisations with impenetrable bureaucracies that are no better than Natural England and in certain cases much worse. For example how accountable will they be? How will we be able to challenge and scrutinise their decision making? They will control very carefully their release of information which will be vetted to demonstrate those things that are favourable to them. Lack of transparency will be consolidated by a lack of a Freedom of Information policy and a complaints procedure that is less rigorous even than that in local government.
Blacka Moor is now managed by Sheffield Wildlife Trust. Some will say that this is already an example of the Big Society at work. Are local people and those who use and know the site any more empowered, are we all better off and is the place in good hands? Do I need to say who benefits?
Friday, 19 November 2010
In the morning the sun broke through briefly only to allow the clouds to return. By mid-afternoon the sun reserved itself to the highest grassy slopes where cows and sheep, not completely stupid, enjoyed themselves in the calm and the warmth. A pity that Thistle Hill is now once again claiming a change of name to Sheepsh*t Hill.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
This afternoon as the kestrel hovered low over the moor the crow uttered a distracting rattle from the top of the wall. That incensed the kestrel who responded by swooping past him only an inch or so away before perching on the nearby post. From the sounds it's probably a good job my innocent ears could not translate the language.
Monday, 15 November 2010
What prompts these philosophical ramblings is hearing today that the Prime Minister is embarking on a ‘Happiness Survey’. Now this is the kind of pernicious thing that SWT could have done. In fact they did try it once with a Visitor Survey of Blacka Moor while believing (or rather claiming) that it was with best intentions; this was shelved after complaints but I’ll be surprised if it’s not being used somehow somewhere in some of their publicity to demonstrate that everyone apart from a very small unrepresentative few think that SWT is doing a magnificent job.
The problem is the big one of Control. Those ‘In Control’ use the results of these surveys to secure their own positions. Evidence is gathered, honestly or not, they compile statistics, they analyse results, they define the key issues and off they go. Each stage of the process brings opportunities for subjectivism and corruption but results are always presented as being objective. The next step is to distil the essential findings into a top-down programme that persuades all but the most sceptical that they know what people want and they then proceed to dispense just that kind of spurious contentment to the public. It is primary totalitarianism a la Brave New World. Eventually the discontented are excluded from Paradise because they are not happy according to the findings of the surveys. The tyranny of surveys and statistics is all part of the way that control is exercised by those in power. Many dodgy surveys are presented to councillors in local government and to the media weekly and very few receive anything like the scrutiny they deserve. All you need to do to bamboozle the average committee member is to distribute a paper with various supposed ‘findings’ beautifully presented with tables and graphs, sprinkled with figures and percentages written in the approved style. Courses are run on this, not necessarily titled ‘How to Get What You Want Even When You Are Wrong’.
The lesson is thus: question every statement and every assumption especially those that we are expected to take on trust. That is the scientific approach and should also be the political one. Some of the better Parliamentary Select Committees do proper scrutiny. So should we all. Thereby we might achieve true happiness.
The first thought is what SWT will make of this. Will they fasten on this as more evidence that trees are dangerous and may well contravene Health & Safety guidelines? They are probably about to embark on a winter's round of tree murder. Past justifications for these chain saw power games have included the one about women being frightened of trees because wild men might be hiding behind them. The fact that this is a standard excuse for wildlife management (oxymoron if ever there was one) was revealed when it was also used by a mad professor explaining a tree cull at Wadsley and Loxley Common. Women I've mentioned this to have been dumbfounded or incensed.
Saturday, 13 November 2010
There's much scope here for seeing a mirror to human society. Watching a rookery you can often find that the birds are tumbling over each other with one climbing within an airborn tower until he's achieved his goal of being top bird.
He was alone, once more stimulating thoughts about competitiveness and collectivism. If the rutting has run its course the hinds will be for the most part staying in single sex groups but the dominant stag often stays solitary for a while before eventually making common cause with his rivals during the winter.
Once he saw us he made as if to move off but thought better of it and decided to lie down in the bracken. Another reminder of just how they see the bracken as a refuge. Did he forget that his antlers remained visible or did he calculate that they would easily blend in with the twigs and branches beyond?
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
The power stations are not always visible of course and I for one am grateful for that although the sight of Lincoln Cathedral ten miles further on is always welcome. This morning an unusual sunrise illuminated both the power stations and, interestingly another more recent development, several wind turbines. In the distance these might be more acceptable than any attempts to install them closer. This reminds me that a planning application has been published this week for a 15 metre wind turbine at Whitelow Farm.
Later in the week, and more to the east the two can be seen together:
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
Monday, 8 November 2010
Bracken’s visual appeal enhances in autumn colouring and is at its most striking here as it creates a hanging garden climbing among the Hawthorn.
Blazes of young beech are a feature of wilder woods, worth waiting for a shaft of sun to pick them out. One from the afternoon in the shade below
and one earlier just after sunrise.
Sunday, 7 November 2010
For this we are in debt to the Dore Village Society and to Dawn's work in getting this done.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
They made off slowly. The rutting behaviour of a fortnight ago now seems to have run its course. Forty minutes later looking down from the top of Thistle Hill we could see two men laden with hardware disturbing a larger group which dashed off at some speed across the hillside. Among these were a number of hinds.
Friday, 5 November 2010
Messages arriving via SWT suggest that people from Sorby are doing a guided walk through the pasture land tomorrow morning (Saturday) in pursuit of waxcaps. There are certainly plenty of these colourful fungi around although my choice would have been to come about two weeks ago. Many are past their best. Still, one of my favourites was there this morning and may survive until tomorrow if the livestock who use the place as a lavatory avoid treading on it. Actually there are two - close together. My knowledge of fungi is limited, but if this is not the Ballerina Waxcap then it is the closest to it that I have yet seen, being pink and having a poise and a pose that would not go amiss in a production of Sleeping Beauty.