Several years ago we reported and discussed the importance of a healthy bee population. Last year there were noises off left that suggested that the parasite that seemed to be responsible for so many deaths had been identified and methods of dealing with it established. I had got used to taking videos of bees that seemed to be lost, grounded and moving aimlessly in circles. Today I found another possible victim. It would be reassuring from local specialists that, indeed, this danger is past and that what I saw was an injured bee.
In November 2012 we offered this article to stimulate discussion about an important assumption of our democracy. As time has passed and terrorist outrage once more stalks our streets should we put more effort into defining and defending our freedom of speech? Freedom of speech is restricted by perceptions of abuse and hatred but have those restrictions gone too far? Are some groups taking unfair advantage of our tolerance? What do you think?
When we asked after the health of democracy in Wye we might have very well asked about the instruments that ensure its vitality. One of the principal insurances of democracy is the freedom of expression – of which freedom of speech is one aspect – and, like apple pie we all agree that it is good. However, and this is where the trouble begins, we all have reservations and surround our support with caveats. The main caveat is that we should not exhort others to kill and murder – that seems right and in a democratic society we leave decisions about death and killing to our democratic representatives. That seems tautological. If democracy has an insurance against tyranny in the freedom of expression how can we achieve democracy without full freedom of expression? That, even without an extreme example, is a problem. We walk on eggshells when it comes to race and religion and those issues are, as ever, major causes of conflict and a threat to security. The other no-go area is that of privacy of the individual, for which our laws against libel and scandal act as reasonable bulwarks. Reasonable, that is, until they become protections for unacceptable abuse of power and what kind of abuse can we cover up under the cloak of private life?
As Lord Justice Leveson issues his findings on the press and its regulation it will not only be the newspapers that will show concern over the future of the sixth estate – new citizen journalism is already a sufficient thorn in the side of the powerful that it’s censorship is only just around the corner. One only has to run a local website for a few months to experience the reactions to open debate.
BBC: Viewpoints: Should the press be regulated? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/20466955
Skylark Meadow has been a remarkable balm to the eyes over this past week. Beneath what have been cloudy skies, Martin with his love of natural, rather than artificial, management of the quality of his soil has performed a piece of magic. He has bound the nitrogen to the soil with a mixture of flowering plants that generate, not only beauty but a wonderful aroma. We cannot reproduce the latter but here are a few images of the flowers.
For those who will miss this year’s show Martin is already planting for next year; Thank you, Martin!
We recently pointed out that nature does not need our actions, such as contaminating the countryside with our rubbish, to challenge local species of both animals and plants.
Yesterday underlined this for us when taking a chance to amble in our glorious AONB we encountered the remains of some predator’s meals! Birds eggs are protected from human predation but, naturally, not from nature’s.
In 2007 Mahidur (Mohid to customers and friends) Rahman invited us to share the warmth of his charm and his fine Bengali dishes. His staff, all young men from Bangladesh, always greeted us with broad smiles and stories of their homeland. What a disaster it was when fire consumed the roof. The damage is substantial and we would welcome some news from Mr. Rahman about the possibility of Joshan’s reopening? Meanwhile a few pictures to remind us of better times!
To anyone who is still watching Wyeweb I would like to apologize for the lack of any new posts. Many years ago the then parish clerk who had her own ideas about web internet communications and did not like being thwarted accused those of us who wished for an independent web presence of running a blog. I am still not sure that she understood the differences among websites, but wyeweb continued for the greater part of ten years to be a local webpaper or webazine or something other than a daily diary of somebody’s personal experiences. It depended very much on either contributions or news items that interested the village. Today that has changed.
Oh there are still things that affect the lives of residents, though the demographics of the village have changed beyond recognition. No longer can we speak of a “Oxbridge in a Village’ and the local pubs are now either tourist stop-overs or chic wine-bars and, although the countryside is still very pleasant for the occasional weekend stroll with the baby it no longer gives Wye it’s special place in agricultural activity. No there are issues aplenty for the people of Wye. However, the issues that bound the people into a community have been relegated to the background. Perhaps, the highly individualized society has come to Wye and so we have, at best, a number of small groups with their own identities. The Wye Art Association, the Wye Historical Society, the various congregations – each serving its own self-serving objectives. For my part I have always been interested in my professional calling and I find increasing satisfaction in a greater community of scientists of like mind.
I had hoped to try and restore some of the historical content of Wyeweb but looks increasingly difficult and, assuredly, a labour of love worthy of the greater community. I will continue to try and restore some of the historical pages as long as I feel that the site serves a purpose but it may, in the end, turn out to be more of a blog than we originally intended.
Without fear of contradiction we can say that WyeWeb has been supportive of agriculture and the farmers who tend their cattle and till the soil. But, from time to time we have voiced criticism and today is such an occasion. We are fortunate to have examples of all kinds of farming practice – large scale industrial farming, conservative organic farming, specialist growers of flowers, fruit and vegetables. But farmers should be on their guard of falling prey to practice that would generally attract not only their own anger but the community at large.
In the accompanying image, fortunately not accompanied by the awful acrid, chemical smell, we see pollution of the worst kind perpetrated in set-aside. Is it possible to remedy the damage done? We do not know, perhaps the area of contamination is small, perhaps the sub-soil has been irretrievably damaged, perhaps insects and birds have already had their breeding cycle destroyed, at least for this year. Whoever carelessly did this damage should immediately rectify it.