The Yorkshire Dales National Park is sixty years old this week and there are plans afoot to extend in so that it joins up in places with the Lake District National Park, as they are so close together. We actually live outside the National Park by two or three miles, so we have the best of both worlds - we can appreciate its scenery without all its restrictions on planning and suchlike.
Both the farmer and I are "Country People" - he has lived here all his life. Although I lived in a city for twenty years I spent all my spare time in the countryside and longed to get back there to live when I retired. But everyone is not besotted with the countryside and why should they be?
A "townie" friend came to stay for a while. We told her we would be going on country walks, so bring her walking shoes. The first time we got dressed up in our walking gear she came downstairs in two inch heels - "These are my walking shoes," she said. "The rest of my shoes have three inch heels!"
Now there has been "A survey" done and the results were published yesterday in the farmer's daily paper. There is no indication of who did the survey, where it was done, how many people were questioned, under what conditions they were questioned - so as far as I am concerned the "results" are pretty worthless. But this is what the so-called survey found:-
One third of those asked had never been into the countryside and had no desire to go there.
One in ten of those asked could not identify a sheep.
Forty-four per cent could not identify an oak tree.
Eighty-three percent did not recognise a bluebell.
Twelve per cent, when shown a photograph of a stag, thought it was a reindeer.
Now the countryside is my life - I cannot imagine ever living anywhere else now. But that does not mean I think everyone else should feel the same. I think it is quite possible that I could be shown photographs of things in the city that I could not identify. What, you may ask? Well how do I know what if I am going to be unable to identify it?
The Professor of Tourism at the University of Surrey says he feels it is quite alarming that over half the nation thinks the British Countryside is boring and feels it may be due to British people holidaying abroad so that they have forgotten what joys there are to be had in the countryside.
My feeling is that we should live and let live. If that eighty-three percent who can't recognise a blue bell when they see one are encouraged to come out into the country and find one - please oh please let them stay away from the secret bluebell wood I know. I am keeping a careful eye on the progress of those startlingly blue......well, bells.......and shall post a photograph for you to identify in due course!