The Fight For Beauty

It’s almost a year since I last posted, idly thinking that retirement might bring more time for he odd bit of writing. I don’t pretend to be a great scribe, and I am naturally lazy, re it was never going to happen that often. I enjoy reading more than the act of writing and it is reading that has brought me back.

The sister of a dear friend from schooldays has achieved great things in her life – and I am sure has more to offer. We all knew she would, always a special person wise and insightful beyond her years, the second of five talented sisters. Finally she has found time to write a book and, like many first books, it has an element of autobiography but that is not its point.

Dame Fiona Reynolds has dedicated her life to the good stuff that surrounds us through her work with the National Parks, CPRE and the National Trust as a volunteer, worker and leader. It is this personal history that is the backdrop to The Fight For Beauty as Fiona looks back over the way our country’s history has played its part in the shaping of our landscape and how the future can positively contribute. It is not a case for or against the past or the future but a carefully thought through discussion of the role of beauty in Development. For me, and friends will not be surprised,  the most important point being that our leaders’ current obsession with economics, profit and marketisation is potentially to the detriment of beauty. We have, as a result, become almost afraid to value beauty and the impact on the physical and mental health (and wealth) of our country is at stake. We need places to just ‘be’.

A heron on the banks of the canal near Natwich

I chose to read the book whilst holidaying on the Llangollen and Shropshire Union canals around Chester and Nantwich. A perfect setting that showed how manmade and natural beauty can come together to ease the body and mind directly demonstrating the really important stuff of life. Yes, we need homes, transport infrastructure, hospitals, schools, workplaces and shops but but we also need green spaces – breathing spaces.

Fiona makes the case far better than I so have a good read of the book; it is well written so it is not hard going, her clarity makes the points gently and firmly.

The Fight For Beauty is published by One World and is available from all manner of book retailers.




Locks and Bars

I was brought up in Rugby, Warwickshire and have fond memories as a child watching the narrow boats on the canals nearby and the development of a lucrative holiday industry. Several decades later I decided it was time to try a week on a narrow boat – one of those bucket list events. It being the summer of rain (so far) I was a bit nervous about being in a confined space if the heavens did open and also wondered if I should be especially vigilant if I saw animals ‘two by two’ looking shiftily in our direction, but I need not have worried at all. two by two!The weather was fairly kind, there were no stowaway unicorns and we had a really interesting time which, although hard work, was relaxing as we chugged along at 3mph.

As ever, something did strike me as being worthy of a word or two…. Continue reading