Country Life Today: Keep an eye out for the reticulated python roaming Cambridge

A reticulated python is loose on the streets of the university city; how it feels to be a millionaire landowner while still at secondary school; and a call for Britain to its bit to end the cruelty of 'canned hunting'.

Reticulated python on the loose in Cambridge

No, it’s not global warming gone mad — just a pet owner who has inadvertently unleashed a specimen of the world’s longest snake onto the genteel streets of Cambridge. The snake in question is about 9ft long — but should it find a ready supply of students and tourists on which to feed, it could potentially grow to three or four times that size.

Full story (The Independent)


Picture of the Day: If you thought our weather has been crazy, wait till you see summertime in Mexico…

Photo credit: Ulises Ruiz/AFP/Getty Images

The city ofGuadalajara has was buried under 5ft of hail in a freak storm on Sunday. The accumulation of hail in the streets buried vehicles and damaged 200 homes; before it hit, the temperature had been 30 degrees and the skies had been clear.

Full story (BBC)


What it’s like to inherit a huge country mansion at the age of 12: ‘There was a fair bit of ribbing at school’

Skateboarding down the halls? Burton Agnes Hall was inherited by a 12-year-old in 1989.

Skateboarding down the halls? Burton Agnes Hall was inherited by a 12-year-old in 1989.

The age, in years, of Simon Cunliffe-Lister when he inherited a £10 million estate. What 12-year-old hasn’t dreamt of suddenly coming in to untold wealth, able to buy toys, sweets and anything else to escape the tedium of maths homework? Or to have a country house with great halls to be cycled and skateboarded along?

The schoolboy millionaire generated all sorts of headlines back in 1989; The Telegraph catches up with him 30 years later to see how it all worked out.

Full story (Daily Telegraph)


On-shore wind farms to take off again

A wind farm in Cumbria — yes, it might spoil the view a bit. But it's damn sight better than an uninhabitable planet for your grandchildren to inherit.

A wind farm in Cumbria — yes, it might spoil the view a bit. But it’s damn sight better than an uninhabitable planet for your grandchildren to inherit.

The end of government subsidies for on-shore wind farms saw the numbers being built plummet. Yet in the years since that policy was enacted, it seems that voters now overwhelmingly accept the need for more of them, according to a report.

Full story (The Guardian)


The spectacular wildlife that thrives as Britain warms

The Small Red-eyed Damselfly now thrives in Britain.

Extreme weather always creates winners and losers in nature, and a fascinating piece in The Guardian at the weekend took an in-depth look at some of the creatures who have moved north into a warming Britain in recent years.

Exotic birds are the most visible sign of the change, but insect life is thriving in particular: ‘The small red-eyed damselfly – with eyes like tiny cherry tomatoes – had not even been recorded in the UK until 1999,’ writes Stephen Moss. ‘Yet since then, it has spread at a remarkable rate, and has reached Devon in the west and North Yorkshire in the north.’

Full story (The Guardian) or read more about the winners and losers of the summer of 2018 (Country Life) 


‘Trophy Hunting’ firms targeting UK to drum up business

A lion in Etoscha National Park, Namibia

Tourists pay thousands to go on hunts in enclosures where they can shoot lions who have no hope of escape.

The idea of going on a ‘trophy hunting’ holiday — where the main purpose is to kill a lion, giraffe or some other wonder of the African savannah — seems like a notion that’s at least a century out of date. In the case of ‘canned hunting’ — in which lions bred in captivity are kept in fenced-enclosures, specifically there to be shot by tourists — it seems unfathomably awful.

Yet it still goes on, and The Times reports that firms in South Africa operating these are specifically targeting the UK as there is no legislation to prevent hunters bringing their trophies back home. That may change soon: Sir Ranulph Fiennes is to address Parliament on the subject this week. ‘Trophy hunting is calculated cruelty,” he said. “It is a crime against nature and should be a crime in law.’

Full story (The Times)


And finally… Why do we say ‘pinch, punch’ on the first of the month?

Apparently it’s something to do with witches: a pinch of salt to ward them off, and a punch on the nose should they come too close.

Full story (Spring Chicken)