I spent some of the weekend helping with conservation work on Woodcock Hill, a wonderful piece of open space on the edge of Borehamwood that campaigners like Pat Strack have fought tirelessly to preserve. It reminded me that one of the greatest pleasures of living in our corner of Hertfordshire is the countryside that we have right on our doorstep.
I love the feeling when you come back on the train from London and see green fields and open space for the first time. For me, it’s like a weight lifting off my shoulders. And there’s a slightly different smell in the air when the train doors open, especially at this time of year. It’s just that little bit cooler and sweeter. It immediately makes me feel at home.
And nothing beats putting on your welly boots or old shoes and actually getting out into the open air. My enjoyment of the countryside began at an early age. One of my favourite treats was a trip to Aldenham Country Park. Coming from Radlett, we’d turn down Butterfly Lane. Even the name itself has a certain romance. When we arrived, there was a choice of feeding the ducks, seeing the animals or walking around the lake. But for me, the adventure playground was always the destination of choice.
Now that I have children of my own, it’s great to take them to the same places and see that so little has changed. For my daughter there now a new attraction: the walk to peep through the window of Winnie the Pooh’s house to see him tucked up asleep. And everything else is still there – the lakes, the ducks and a wonderful petting farm.
I feel the same sense of attachment about the less managed countryside. As a youngster, I loved walking or cycling with my father through the woods at the end of the road by our house. In later years, we’d journey across the Munden Estate and up to Battler’s Green where my cousins lived. On the way he’d stop to test my knowledge of the names of trees and birds. To this day, I can still name a tree from its leaf or its bark. It is something that I intend to pass on to my own children.
Memories of times past and safeguarding the future; that’s why I’m so passionate about protecting the countryside. Not only does our local landscape help to make Radlett, Bushey and Borehamwood great places to live today. It’s also that we owe it to our children and grandchildren to protect what we have so that they can grow to love it tomorrow.
Read the article in November's edition of MyBushey and MyRadlett News.