Friday, May 27, 2011

The bottom line

Click away now if you think this one's going to be about the sort of underwear that sucks the wobbly bits  in and presents a slender profile.  Marks and Spencer can help you out there. Off you go.

Ditto if you're looking for pastoral diversions in the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan, a vista of trees and flowers, fluttering blue tits, woolly lambs or ploughs and muck spreaders -  but bear those images in mind.

Me? I've still got my campaigning head on and this post continues in that vein.

Yesterday's Times newspaper had a small supplement which attracted my eye because on its cover was a sexily backlit pylon.  It might be relevant so I read on. It wasn't quite advertising and I'm not sure it was editorial either. Titled 'Mapping British Business Utilities' it addressed some of the issues concerning the development, management and economics facing the nation's utility companies.

What came home to roost - and I don't begin to understand the economics of it -  is that it all comes down to pushing figures - figures of mind-boggling enormity -  around on a spread sheet. I ponder that it's all somewhat anonymous and abstract. The number crunching could be done with concepts or colours instead of energy and water perhaps.

Oh, and don't forget the undercurrent of political ambition either.  The quite laudable policy of moving towards a greater proportion of renewable energy must be achieved at all costs by our political and financial masters with barely a nod to the impact on local communities.

A small thought comes into my head; Gloucester's lines from Act 4 of King Lear: 'As flies to wanton boys are we to th' gods....'


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A rebel with a cause.

A natural rebel? Me? Nah. Anything for a quiet time - which generally means 'put up or shut up'.

Sometimes though, something rattles the cage. Wind farms, pylons...and the flawed policies of our so-called leaders.

Yesterday saw us join a 1,000+ other like-minded folk march in protest to the Senedd in Cardiff.  The Senedd is the home of the National Assembly of Wales but, as I am told by its website, it belongs to us - the people. It is 'the main centre for democracy and devolution in Wales' and I think we all have that at the back of our minds when we stand on the steps of the building with our banners and placards. We hope that our elected representatives will listen to what we, the people who put them in office, have to say.

We have the banner - which you have seen strapped to Eddie's best field gate in the previous post.

On Monday night we had the banner lashed to two broomsticks - held aloft it looked good, Good, GOOD!!!! Unfortunately a somewhat twitchy Cardiff police told us sticks and wooden placards would not be allowed (boo!) and we had to carry it without. Flappy banner = less impact methinks. We should have ignored the 'advice' as most other people did - the police presence was minimal. (There seemed to be about 3 officers and a work-experience girl.)

We were there with people from Shropshire in support of those from across the border in Montgomeryshire, our joint campaign starting with the threat of sub-stations and pylons and moving onto tackle the root of the problem - upland windfarms and the Assembly's adoption of TAN8 - the policy document which identifies  areas of Wales where large-scale wind farms are to be encouraged, so called Strategic Search Areas.

The joining of forces has been the great part of this campaign. The National Grid's Consultation Response form asks us to 'vote' for the route we would like to see the power corridor take. We obviously would not want in in our valley so we'll vote for it to go in somebody else's shall we?  How unpleasant is that, pitting community against community, maybe family against family. No, we're in this together - like the Musketeers. 'All for one and one for all'.

So we stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Assembly building; young and old from all walks of life, schoolchildren, babes in arms and a couple of dogs. We raised our banners and placards with their simple messages - all different but all saying in essence the same thing. I snapped some of our Marton group.

Gathered together we sang - nothing like an old-fashioned protest song with a catchy refrain is there? I'd rather hoped to hear a snatch of Bob Dylan in celebration of his 70th birthday, which was yesterday too. 'Blowing in the Wind' would have been appropriate.

We listened to speakers from the various local campaigns; welcomed with whoops and cheers the sore-footed walkers who had walked the 100 plus miles from Welshpool to Cardiff in protest; applauded the young children who presented squares of upland turf to Assembly Members and listened as their clear, piping voices read, one in Welsh, one in English, their wish that this gift symbolising the hills of Montgomeryshire should be a treasured one.

We listened to politicians from across the political spectrum pledge their support for a review of TAN8 and for a moratorium on the building of any more wind farms until that happens. Hurrah! This gathering outside the Senedd is the largest of its kind to have taken place here in in the life of that building, admittedly a short time, but even so...) so perhaps they were noticing that the people - the quiet unassuming people of Montgomeryshire - were not to be ignored or walked over and that there is a moral duty to represent their views. Can and will our representatives in Cardiff prevent Westminster playing the winning hand in the end? Will party lines and policy prove stronger than pledges made on home ground? We will see. Call me a cynic but the politician is a slippery beast.

Our drive down took us through Montgomeryshire and Breconshire - stunningly beautiful countryside of soaring hills and verdant valleys where ancient deciduous woodlands run down to gurgling streams. It's a peaceful land. Sheep safely graze.

It's hilly and underpopulated too - but that doesn't seem much of an argument for desecrating a national treasure does it?

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I'm flickin' and clickin' around the internets.  A bit of this and bit of that; some news here, some politicking there. Gardening, cooking, crafts, families...lives and their minutiae. Folks I've got to know - others I would like to - slender threads I don't want to let go of yet...and this is, of course, the best record keeping I've managed yet. However, on the home front things have slipped a bit...

Give or take a day or two it's a month since fingers hit keys and made a post. (Hmm...has anyone noticed.) I do like a good image so visualise the past 30 days as a mountain of missed bloggo-tunities.

In brief we've had:

6 weeks without rain. Then rain. Beetroot seed have taken 6 weeks to germinate. Weeds? Hah. Little stops them does it? Ergo there has been much weeding. There has been much gardening done in general. Planting, sowing, mowing, lifting and shifting. My hands are a mess, my back aches but the urge to tease this plot into shape does not go away.

Baby birds hatching - yes, that little nest was finally filled to bursting with muscular fledglings. The next day they were gone.
Another ex-swallow found - showing evidence of serious sucking - dead, in Chester's bed. I like to think, as suggested previously that he found it in the garden - in fact it may well have met its end crashing into a window - and he merely retrieved it and gave it a good lick en route. He just looked at me with his toffee coloured eyes as if to say 'And?' If only they could talk.

We've had visitors, many of them. Yep. Definitely like visitors. They come, bringing news and views from elsewhere - wine, flowers and plants too. We do much talking, freshen up our views and most importantly go out and show off this wonderful place we live in.

Which brings me neatly to the local campaign to keep our borderlands just so; an unspoiled stretch of countryside. The National Grid's proposal to connect planned mid Wales windfarms via a high voltage cable to an existing line between Oswestry and Shrewsbury has caused a furore hereabouts. There are 10 proposed 'corridors' in mid Wales and Shropshire - any one of which would be blighted if the cable were carried on 50m high pylons through it. The campaign has moved on from the initial 'not in our valley' to 'not anywhere'. No. No. No. No to pylons. No to windfarms. Rethink the flawed TAN8.

On Tuesday 24th May the people of Montgomeryshire and Shropshire will take their campaign to Cardiff to make their voices heard outside the Welsh Assembly building.

Maureen and I will take our banner down off Ed's gate, lash it to a couple of broomsticks and raise it high. The perfect accessory for a protest march. I've not done this sort of thing before but feel a determined streak coming on.
Power to the people then. But not on pylons.