Leaving home/Coming home

I had been very careful choosing my seat, if you like looking out of the plane window I think the best is probably row 10/window. And the day was wonderful! The few clouds were lower than us and made patterns on the landscape or we played peek-a -boo through the gaps in the clouds, Absolutely perfect!

So goodbye to England for a while! I love the English countryside so much, laid out in irregular fields, shapes softly undulating. and bounded by hedges with a few of the trees still left. These trees were once part of the hedge but they’ve been there long enough to mature into trees. The hedges have been lost to make way for  more “industrial ” farming more manageable fields and so we’ve lost a lot of  wild flowers and wildlife suffers too. Our very oldest hedgerows, which mark parish boundaries, date from the bronze age and are irreplaceable living history. Just the names of the shrubs make poetic reading: hazel, dogwood, guelder rose, spindle. Hedgerow planting took off again in Roman Britain and continued until the Enclosures Act prompted a lot more planting. Unfortunately, after the second World War  many were removed to make the country more self-sufficient; now however the pendulum has swung all the way back and instead of encouraging hedge- clearance the government gives grants to encourage laying hedges. Loss had also  been caused by straw burning( no longer allowed) and the drifting of sprays used on crops, as well as bad management. The gapped lines of trees that I so love are called relict hedgerows.

Over the Channel to la douce France with her fields divided into much smaller strips and  no hedges. We had a marvellous view of the Seine and its repeated curves, like a geography lesson! We flew over Paris but what struck me most was the large quantity of forests . I think it’s about the sixth country in Europe for forest coverage.

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