The Way I See Things



Day five back from holiday. Now so desperate for a lie-in that even though I was supposed to be in Worcester early doors, my body refused to listen to my brain, and simply declined to wake up. By the time I eventually made it to the garage to collect the MX-5, I was expecting them to be grumpy about the fact that I was still in possession of their loan car, but it turned out that they took full responsibility for this because they'd failed to complete my service and MOT on Friday as agreed. Not only were they not snippy about it, but they actually reduced the bill, which meant that I didn't need to sell a limb after all.

Feeling light-hearted, I swung round to Croome, dived head-first into a plate of cake, and then went on an invert hunt around the grounds. This turned out to be a game of two halves - the first pleasant and enjoyable, and the second very much the opposite. This photo represents the first half, during which I discovered that the annual marmalade fly invasion is underway: I counted thirty seven Episyrphus balteatus on this clump of orange day lilies, with many scores more on nearby flowers. It may be my over-tired imagination, but it seems to me that there's a kind of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom vibe about this, which I like a lot, and it's this that has made it my photo of the day.

The morning went sour when I reached the lake, and discovered that yet more clearance of vegetation is taking place. To say that I'm unhappy would be an understatement: I felt physically ill when I saw the heaps of uprooted reeds on the bank, and the more I think about it now, the more outraged I'm becoming. The idea is apparently to return the water course to the state envisaged by Capability Brown, which 'improved nature' and permitted of nothing wild or untidy - a landscaping style which was controversial even during his lifetime, and fell rapidly out of favour after his death.

In my opinion this 'restoration' is a criminally misguided endeavour, at a time when wildlife is in crisis and invertebrate numbers are plummeting: last summer the lake at Croome teemed with invertebrates, but it's now a big, ugly, muddy puddle, and virtually devoid of life. A formerly excellent Odonata site today provided a few dozen Blue-tailed Damselflies, one Red-eye, and a handful of Azures - and not a single dragonfly of any species. And without the insects, what will the birds and the fish eat? I've been told that the ducks and geese at the lake didn't breed this year, and that fish numbers, which fell dramatically while there were otters on the site, aren't recovering as they should.

I doubt that there's much to be gained by starting a war of words with the National Trust on social media, but I'm so angry right now that I'm finding it hard to resist the impulse. I will certainly be writing some letters, just as soon as I can regain enough equilibrium to do it rationally.

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