A World Apart

BY JIM WEBSTER

Whilst people are trapped by the virus, agriculture continues to march to the beat of a different drum. Almost certainly having had the virus means that here we’re mentally in a different place to a lot of people but I went into town yesterday and had to go into one establishment to deal with a couple of issues. I’m somebody who hasn’t seen alcohol gel hand sanitiser for about six weeks. The whole thing comes as a shock to the system. Frankly at the moment I’m more concerned about the weather and grass growth than Covid. Obviously there’s still plenty of time for us to have droughts, floods or the perfect English summer. So I’m not quite at the worrying stage yet.

I’m hoping our grass seed might one day get enough rain to germinate. We’ve just taken first cut with the forage harvester. To be honest it’s not a heavy crop. By no means a disaster, and by getting it off now, it gives the grass time to grow again. What we really need is a wettish week and looking at the forecast weren’t not really going to get meaningful rain for at least a week. Just looking at the Atlantic charts the fronts coming in from the Caribbean all seem to break up long before they get to us.

Certainly within Agriculture, contractors are still working. I was talking to one lad just before, he’s still emptying septic tanks, and is going to give me a quote for some work with a digger. But what about the towns and cities? I was reading an interesting article yesterday, when the writer pondered what was going to happen to London. They pointed out that if people continue working from home after the lock-down, this could decimate the businesses set up to support those commuting into the city.

Now I can remember going to meetings in London in 2008 during the crash. All along the London Wall and the streets off there were all sorts of shops putting up the shutters for the last time. Not just coffee shops but tailors, newsagents, gyms and similar. It might be that in the medium term, cities like London take longer to come out of this. Indeed the writer suggested that our economy might even diversify away from them. Given how much of London is dedicated to tourism as well, the next few years could be a nightmare for the capital city.

Obviously other areas depend on tourism. But I’ve noticed in some areas the inhabitants are very nuanced in their support for the tourism industry. Indeed in one part of the Cumbria they did what you can see in the photo below to ensure that visitors didn’t get into their village.

I do wonder how the return of tourists into the Lake District will be welcomed. A lot of people who live in the National Park don’t earn anything from tourists. In fact given the nightmare that is travelling through the Park, you do get people talking about doing something to control the numbers. Certainly I cannot see the National Park getting twenty million visitors next year.

There again, what do I know?

Jim Webster farms at the bottom end of South Cumbria. Jim was encouraged to collect together into a book some blog posts he’d written because of their insight into Cumbrian farming and rural life (rain, sheep, quad-bikes and dogs) It’s available here.

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