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Country Life Today: The ‘simply appalling’ realities of inheriting an enormous country estate

This morning's news round-up offers a warning to be careful what you wish for, cheers for a school nurturing its green-fingered pupils and laments an example of health and safety trumping common sense.

‘If you inherit a really big pile, it’s simply appalling. Suddenly your life has been torn apart’

Be careful what you wish for, the saying goes — you might just get it. If you’ve ever daydreamed about inheriting a vast Scottish estate, a story in the Daily Telegraph this weekend provides a bit of a reality check.

It’s a fascinating interview with Sir Malcolm and Lady Colquhoun, written by regular Country Life contributor Eleanor Doughty, in which the couple discuss the realities of keeping the 40,000-acre Luss estate going while juggling their existing lives back in London.

‘Some years it makes a tiny profit, other years it makes a whacking great loss,’ Sir Malcolm says of what little farming can be done on this wild, hilly landscape. ‘We do it because it’s the right thing to do. If all the ­subsidies were to be withdrawn, then one would walk away from it and ­revert it to being beautiful hillside.

Full story (Daily Telegraph)


Health and Safety 1, Common Sense 0

North Devons famous surfing beach at Croyde

North Devons famous surfing beach at Croyde

A pair of hugely-experienced lifeguards in Devon have resigned after being punished for taking a teenager to hospital in their van rather than making him wait two hours for an ambulance.

The officer in charge of Croyde Coastguard Rescue Team, a man of 32 years’ experience, ‘quit after being told he would have to start his training again. He said a female colleague with 18 years’ experience also resigned,’ the BBC reports.

The lifeguard ‘was told he would lose his OIC [officer in charge] status. He said he had seen “so many changes” since he started, but health and safety regulations had “gone absolutely [mad]”.

Full story (BBC)


The school growing a generation of avid gardeners

Students of Writhlington School with teacher Simon Pugh-Jones back in 2004 — he's still going strong today.

Students of Writhlington School with teacher Simon Pugh-Jones back in 2004 — he’s still going strong today.

The Telegraph carries dispatches from Writhlington secondary school in Radstock, Somerset, where an engineer-turned-teacher has spent three decades passing on his love (and skills) in botany.

Full story (Daily Telegraph) or read more about the school’s projects here (writhlington.org.uk) 


‘Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind’

PETA's guerrilla tactics are the stuff of legend: This demonstration outside the White House took place in 2000, with Melynda Duval and Masami Katori braving the November chill to make their point. Credit: AFP/Getty

PETA’s guerrilla tactics are the stuff of legend: This demonstration outside the White House took place in 2000, with Melynda Duval and Masami Katori braving the November chill to make their point. Credit: AFP/Getty

The Times carries a profile and interview with Ingrid Newkirk, head of the animal rights group PETA — most famous for its high-profile ad campaigns featuring naked supermodels and the phrase: ‘I’ rather go naked than wear fur.’

It’s an interesting read that raises awkward questions for anyone with an interest in animals.

‘She wants to erode “human supremacism. The feeling that we are gods and the rest of the animals are just trash and we can do with them what we please”. Empathy is the tool to do that. To Newkirk it’s no different to the social recalibrations that led to the emancipation of black slaves and women in the 19th and 20th centuries. She sees no value difference between an animal life and a human one….
‘”Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind,” Newkirk says, quoting Henry James. “If people actively lived by that they would see opportunities at every turn.”’

Full story (The Times – subscription required)


And finally… Badgers topping the roadkill charts for 2019

Andy Ballard / pixabay.com

Andy Ballard / pixabay.com

We’d never heard of the gruesomely-named ‘Project Splatter’, but apparently they keep tabs on roadkill numbers in the UK. Badgers top the list for 2019 so far with 905 victims having been spotted, ahead of foxes (475) and hedgehogs (453). So it’s not just you: there really are more dead badgers on the roads than you’ve ever seen in your life.

Our only question now is this: who on earth Googles to find out a place where they can report such things, as opposed to just driving on by?

Full story (BBC)