Sunday, 27 April 2008

Leafletting at bluebell time

The last few days I have been in a flurry of leafletting - for Brian Paddick in Westminster and for local council candidates in Colchester. The Greens are intervening erratically in both places. In London they are encouraging supporters to vote Labour in the mayoral contest, which is odd given Labour's dismal environmental record, while in Colchester they have adopted a strategy that seems brilliantly designed to defeat their own objectives by leaving the Tories in control.
I was leafletting in north Colchester's Highwoods ward, currently represented by Independents. The area was once a royal hunting forest, of which the town managed to preserve over 300 acres from property developers, with the result that ranch-style executive homes exist next to ancient woodland and open space now designated a country park. To the east of all that there is the inevitable Tesco, and beyond that the ward shades into mixed private and social housing with some spectacularly ugly and smelly grot spots which no doubt will give the winning candidate something useful to do. It is the only ward in the borough where a BNP candidate is standing though I have had no explanation how the BNP agenda is even relevant to, let alone a solution for, problems there.
On Saturday I whizzed to and from the ward by bus, but as the buses are infrequent on a Sunday I walked from the town centre to the ward across the country park, which the dog enjoyed. After walking for some time along a grassy ride between woods, I took a side path which promised to be a more direct route, though involving some ducking under branches, but after a few minutes the path became indistinct. I could see houses above and not far away, so I carried on, assuming I must be near an exit, but that way was fenced off, so I followed the track round to the left, towards increasingly tangled undergrowth. Suddenly a fox sprang out from some low bushes a few feet ahead and away at an easy canter. I descended a slope to a little stream where I paused to decide where best to cross. Thus it was that in this unlikeliest of places I found myself surrounded by the glory of an English bluebell wood in April. It was quiet except for bird song, and some idea of the hazy blueness can be got perhaps from pictures, but no words or picture can possibly convey the delicious fragrance.

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