Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunday walk

This was a busy weekend, with a visit to the National Gallery, a play, a dinner with two couples I'd never met (Scott's work colleagues and their spouses), lots of walking all around London, and a late afternoon massage (our belated Valentine's Day present to each other).

By Sunday morning, I was feeling a serious need for quiet. One of the best things about where we live is that quiet isn't hard to come by (in fact it's all there really is). We took a peaceful morning walk in an area I recently discovered just five minutes from our house. (click on photos for larger view)

I wanted to distribute left over "nesting wool" which I purchased at the garden center last month. You place little tufts of it around your garden and birds use it to insulate their nests.

The nuthatches, chaffinches and robins currently nesting in our garden have been very receptive to it, but they don't seem to want/need any more. I thought we ought to leave some along the footpaths for other birds to use.

It still amazes me that, outside of urban areas, there isn't a parking lot or Home Depot occupying every open space. The buildings that comprise towns are clustered together, and open space is left for farming or grazing. The public footpath system ensures that ordinary people have public right of way to enjoy these spaces; there are 140,000 miles of paths all over the UK, and even a charity dedicated to protecting them.

Here's an example from our town:

You can see all the homes grouped together, and then big open fields. The dark green lines are hedgerows and/or public footpaths (this is where we walked on Sunday).

As someone who has always lived in large cities, I can't get over the novelty. You can go for miles and miles, crossing private farms, heaths, meadows and woods. Farmers post little signs reminding you to close gates behind you. And depending on the route, you can usually end your walk at a nice warm pub.

Turns out that the birds on this particular footpath might not need our help. We found plenty of fox fur caught on fencing for those birds who have more upscale decorating tastes.

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