The grass is always greener

Travel broadens the mind, so they say, and having returned from a week staying with friends in Hamburg I have come back with a sense of sadness at what we in Britain have lost and continue to lose at an ever increasing pace.

I was staying in Rahlstedt, a suburb of the city and each morning of my stay I would take a walk along a stream which ran near my apartment. It was -6 and snow was on the ground by wildlife was everywhere.  Trees reverberated with drumming woodpeckers, blue and coal tits called from every garden, red squirrels chased each other through the trees. It made me realise how impoverished our own wildlife in Britain has become, how concreted over our towns.

The difference was that here wildlife was allowed to live alongside people. gardens were allowed to run wild not turned into football pitches or car parks, mature trees were not removed as potential health and safety hazards and how delightful was it to walk past a field with horses grazing or a patch of scrub and not have to feel that constant anxiety that it would soon be gone for housing.

A roe deer watched me from a field edge, bullfinches flew between the trees in line with the balconies of flats and then, in a small woodland, I watched a goshawk fall from a tree and crash land on its prey feet from me, mantling it’s feathers over the creature before flying off to a nearby branch and watching me, seemingly unconcerned by my presence.

Red squirrels, bullfinches, goshawks, when was the last time a person living in Britain saw any one of these creatures? Most people in Britain have never seen them and yet we had them once, they are not scarce because they shouldn’t be here but because we pushed them out onto the edge of things.

In the city of Hamburg wildlife is part of everyday life, it surrounds peoples lives. Why then in Britain’s suburbs is wildlife increasingly portrayed as the enemy, an annoyance which stands in the way of progress and growth, and needs to be moved somewhere more convenient.

We have much to learn from other countries, not least, how to make our cities liveable for all, people and wildlife alike.





6 thoughts on “The grass is always greener

  1. Hi Carol. This is a lovely, well expressed piece that strikes a real chord with me. I get more and more despondent when I read the local press which seems to be full of reports of new developments, roads, solar energy plants, etc etc. I fear our wildlife will soon have very few places to thrive; it will simply be a question of adapt or die. However you have to strive to be positive and it’s good to know our European neighbours have more enlightened attitudes, at least in part. I’ll follow,your blog with interest and if you want to have a look at mine you can find it at . Best wishes, Barry

    • Hi Barry, So glad to know the piece touched a chord with you, this destruction of all the ‘edge of town, scrubby places’ is something I feel strongly about as well as the undermining of the protection that surrounds our most important places. I very much enjoyed your blog and the beautiful photos.

    • Thanks Simon for highlighting this issue. Although not a lover of all things Euro then I see many areas where we could learn from our neighbours and I would rather not leave the country entirely to the mercy of the current bunch of self-interested clowns running it.

    • Yes, I guess this is the problem but I also think some of it is to do with ordinary people being pushed out of cities (especially London) by housing prices so everywhere on the edge of London is being filled up with more and more housing. It just isn’t a sustainable policy to cover the countryside in houses. It just seems that more should be done to allow people to stay living close to their work in the cities. Of course this was part of the role of the long gone stock of council housing.

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