Saturday, 10 August 2013

Habitat. Home.

This week my heart is heavy to hear of two homes lost under the soul-less administration of UK government.

One is Oaken Wood near Maidstone in Kent.

Despite lobbying by local people who love the woodland, and the best efforts of the Woodland Trust, permission has been given to cut down the trees to quarry for stone.

Here is Oaken Wood photographed for the Daily Telegraph newspaper:

It will soon look like this:

That’s Kent.  Meanwhile, in Pembrokeshire (Wales), the owners of an earth-friendly turf-roofed straw and wood round house who failed to seek planning permission to build their home, have been told to tear it down on the basis that it harms the character and appearance of the countryside.

Charlie Hague and Megan Williams built their little house for £15,000 on William’s parents’ land, in time for the birth of their first child. 

This is the house:

I feel heartsick when I read about these things.

I have done what I can.
I signed the petition to save Meg and Charlie’s home – there is no reason why Pembrokeshire County Council cannot grant them retrospective planning permission.  Perhaps you might like to sign it, too?

And I sent some money to the Woodland Trust towards their campaign to buy Fingle Wood in England’s West Country.  Only 2% of England’s ancient woodland remains, now.  98% gone.   

This is Fingle Wood:

The trees are our guardians against drought and flood, for they slow down the movement of water through the landscape.  They purify the air and stabilise the land.  They shade us against fierce heat in summer and temper the winter winds.  They are home and shelter to countless species.  They are the lungs of the earth.

Do what you can to speak up for the trees, for your life is in their hands just as their life is in yours.


Anonymous said...

How sad and tragic! We need these places of peace and beauty in order to restore ourselves.I hope they can save their perfect little house, and the forest can be spared. Why must everything be so regulated? I will send up some prayers from America for these things.

Ganeidaz Knot said...

Pen I signed the petition to save Charlie & Meg's house when I first saw it on FB. It is a lovely dwelling & nothing unhygienic, uninhabitable or anything of a eyesore about it. As for the trees, we have 3/4 of an acre, mostly rejuvenated. No *proper* garden because trees are our lifesource. I do not understand this obsession to make our planet uninhabitable by removing all that sustains life. You'd think we'd get it.

Pen Wilcock said...

xx Thanks, friends.

Trish @ A Patchwork Plot said...

Oh dear Pen, how sad!
I remember you telling us how concerned you were about this on a past post.
I have a link to Maidstone through a Kent ancestor who was transported out here in 1837.
It's a real shame to see such lovely countryside being ruined!
The thatched cottage looks interesting..hope they get to keep it after all the love and work that must've gone into it!

Pen Wilcock said...

Well, may Meg and Charlie get to keep their home, and may Fingle Wood be saved at least. xx

Daisyanon said...

Love your new banner pic, is that a new hairstyle and specs?

Just noticed the comments pic as well, very nice!

Pen Wilcock said...

I did have my hair cut recently but the specs - oh, goodness me, my spectacles situaion has become complex! The ones I'm wearing in the new photo are my reading glasses. I have another pair of reading glasses which I rarely use because though the lenses work fine the specs overall are heavy and fall off my face. Both these pairs of glasses do the job perfectly well for reading, but are so blurry as to be disorientating if look up to do anything else. As public speaking is something I do, I have to be able to both read (notes) and look at people without feeling dizzy. For that purpose I have kept my old, weaker reading glasses, which are just the job for browsing in shops, reading from a lectern and looking up at people from my notes.
But it doesn't end there! I also have a pair of distance vision glasses which are for the cinema or watching telly. I find modern films have a lot of fast, quiet dialogue that I rely on lip-reading and facial expression to hear. So though I can see films okay in my weaker reading glasses, I need my distance vision glasses to hear them.
For just walking about in the street I don't need glasses at all, so my sunglasses have no visual corrective feature to the lenses. Thus it comes about that I am at large in the world shopping on a sunny day and wonder in bewilderment why I can't read labels in shops when I have glasses on.
Everywhere I go, I have two, sometimes three pairs of glasses with me . . .
The ones in the pic are my main reading glasses! Make my eyes look huge and threatening but hey, that's the truth!! xx

San said...

I am glad that i am managing with just distance glasses for the time being, although varifocals are looming on the horizon for sure!

Love the new haircut. I have signed petition their house is just beautiful, i do believe in an effort to meet red tape criteria many pen pushers have abandoned all common sense!!

San xx

Pen Wilcock said...

Varifocals! Brave! xx

Paula said...

Ah, yes, the trees. I serve on our local tree board, and yet the removal of trees outpaces the planting, and I haven't figured out how to reverse that. Too many government bodies don't care, and take out trees before the parks department gets wind of it. The parks department gets an "oops, sorry, sort of, but the tree was in the way" from the engineering department, and on it goes. Politics.

Pen Wilcock said...


At the little market town of Battle where my beautiful mama lives, the car park had small ornamental cherry trees. They were in no one's way, they did not impede visibility or limit the car parking space - but one day the council came and cut them all down.

Anonymous said...

I,too, have signed this petition. Thank you for alerting us to its existence.
As to varifocals, I was just thinking that you would find a pair very useful when I read San's comment. I started using varifocals
five years ago and from day one I got on with them really well. I believe it's a case of having a positive attitude towards them.

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thanks for signing, Kay! xx

BLD in MT said...

Oh how sad! The future of our trees is so deeply entwined with our own. Thanks for sharing.

Julie B. said...

I will sign the petition too. People don't seem to value true beauty anymore. It's always "usefulness" and efficiency or whatever. It is a tragedy to see these photos you posted and think they might be no more. Lord, we'll all sign, now will You please do something?

I think your photo is so beautiful, Ember. You are glowing.

Re: glasses. I have never heard of varifocals so am assuming that's the UK term for bifocals or trifocals? I have worn bifocals for years and couldn't see properly without them. The thought of toting around various pairs for various distances sounds like a lot of organizing! When I turned 50, neither of my bifocal lenses were great for the computer anymore, but I refused to get trifocals. Instead I got a very inexpensive pair of glasses I keep near the computer, in the prescription needed for the 18-20" distance to the screen.

God bless your week Ember, and all your readers....

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Beth, hi Julie - thank you for signing xx

Julie, in varifocals the strength of the lens shades gradually, rather than in little steps. Some people find them brilliant, others find them disorientating to the extent they experience giddiness/nausea and can't cope with them. The Badger tried varifocals and they made him feel really ill. I guess my little hoard of glasses accumulated kind of bit by bit and without really thinking about it. I probably ought to have the lenses with gradation in them but there's something that vaguely amuses me about my clutter of glasses. It reminds me of my dear friend Margery who, in her seventies, needed two pairs of glasses for driving (so she said): one pair for up to 30 miles an hour, the second for when she passed that speed... It was exciting being her passenger.

Bean said...

Big business always seems to win out when it comes to money being made. In Appalachia they do strip mining, it is shockingly horrible what they have done to the region, but BIG money wins almost every time.
This house business, it seems several times a year in England, someone goes around the planning process and then is found out and made a scapegoat, I presume to discourage others from doing the same. It seems a shame to tear down this little house now it is here, I guess we will have to wait and see.

Behind our property there lies 100 acres, for many years it was just left alone, a lone farmhouse, long since abandoned and a falling down barn sat in the middle of the property next to a fantastic ravine. The hedgerows had overgrown the grasses and wildflowers would grow waist high the summer, it was a truly amazing habitat, no road reached it, and it was a little oasis and home to deer, rabbits, racoons and many other creatures. Then Mr. Developer came in, saw BIG $$$ and bought the land. Our neighbor sold a swathe of his land so an access road could be built. The planning commission, what a joke, had a hearing for the neighbors but you could tell they all ready had decided to vote yes, in fact one commissioner fell asleep at the hearing, I stood up at the meeting and demanded that she wake up and pay attention as our tax dollars were used to pay her salary!!. Anyway, 8 years later, the habitat torn up, destroyed, the ravine, sculpted to pleasing to I not sure whose eyes, as to me it is now hideous, roads put in and 60 lots for sale, in a sub-division that is billed to be a friend to nature!! What a joke. They have only managed to build twenty five houses so far, much slower than the twenty per year with a completion in three years. The original developer went bankrupt as in six years he was only able to get four properties sold and built on. The current developer seems to be stalling out.
What a absolute shame! Beautiful wild land destroyed, and no one really wants to live there, the first people to move in are trying to sell their home and get out of there. Luxury homes in an environment sculpted to look natural, when it was natural to begin with and is now just a mess.

All these issues come down to money, our commissioners saw property tax revenue from "improved" land, the developer saw money, but he and his investors ended up broke. It was a bad plan to begin with, and it continues to be a bad plan.

Climbing down from my soap box now :)

Blessings to you,


Alice Y. said...

Welsh is under threat as a language and culture, and losing ground. Planning law is one of the key sites of controversy, because of the fragility of welsh-speaking rural communities. I wonder if Megan and Charlie would be able to complete their application in Welsh? They may be able to get help from welsh-speaking family and friends to do so. Perhaps if one or other of them is not yet fluent they could begin to study, there are good course available at no charge.

That might change the outcome of their planning application -- it makes that much difference to rural Welsh-speaking communities. It's hard for Welsh language and culture to survive in such close proximity to the 'language superpower' of England.

Alice Y. said...

I've found a news story that says Charlie, Megan and Eli are a welsh-speaking family: So I hope they know to do their retrospective planning application in Welsh!

Pen Wilcock said...

"I stood up at the meeting and demanded that she wake up and pay attention as our tax dollars were used to pay her salary!!"

Bean, I salute you!

Alice - yes, that's a good point. Meg and Charlie's house is built on their family's land, so they may well be Welsh people. I guess they hoped they could get away with it being categorised as a leisure building or something.

SuzyQ said...

I can't cope with listening to or watching the news these days :(
These kinds of stories make me ache.
Woodlands should be left intact, there are precious few left.
Thank you for the links, will be visiting them now and signing !!!

Pen Wilcock said...

I feel the same Suzy. I've read today that we have now passed the point where the Earth is capable of replacing what we consume in a year. My mind is still reeling from that prospect.