Well there are a few things that make me angry and depressed, I suppose – child abuse, animal cruelty, crime, polluting our planet, fly-tipping, and social and ecological irresponsibility, but I’ve just discovered one more.
First, let me put it in context, so you understand why, despite it being none of my business, this made my blood boil. For the past twenty-odd years, I’ve lived on an isolated smallholding between a wild glacial valley and an expanse of gorse and heather covered moorland. My husband and I planted hundreds of native trees and shrubs and turned a windswept holding into a sheltered oasis and woodland for birds, bugs, and wildlife in general. The walks in the surrounding area were stunning. It was my little slice of paradise, our contribution towards the planet’s health, and I loved it.
As we grew older, I resisted my husband’s desire to move to somewhere easier to maintain and where we might have people within easy reach should we need them, partly because nowhere could measure up. I had panic attacks about leaving, but eventually, being unable to move into the nearby village, because there are so many holiday homes and houses never seem to come onto the market, we found the best of a bad lot and moved about ten miles away. It’s the price you pay for living in a beautiful area near the coast, I suppose. The panic attacks didn’t go away for some time, and I woke every morning for a couple of years feeling badly depressed. A newish bungalow on the edge of a housing estate just isn’t where I want to be, and I would move in a instant if my husband wanted to, but he’s happy here, and we have a lovely garden where we’re busy planting… you guessed it… trees..
My only walk is down through the housing estate and along a shortcut out onto a lane, which thankfully has wild hedge-banks in the traditional Pembrokeshire manner, and leads to a tiny patch of wild ‘conservation’ land and a track where I can get off the road for half a mile – the banks are full of wildflowers and it’s my daily 20 minute escape. No round walks, unfortunately, and although there are lovely walks, it’s a case of getting in the car – I feel divorced from nature here. I need wilderness to feed my soul. I need trees, not houses, silence, not neighbours, and grass beneath my feet, not tarmac.
You get the picture?
Anyway, they are building new homes towards the bottom of the estate, the patch of ‘waste’ ground that was boggy moor and helped stop flooding and was a home for wetland creatures, is shrinking month by month, and the view of fields and hills is being blocked out, roof by roof. I’ve accepted this, though it saddens me. The new houses have very small gardens, they are squeezing the bungalows in very tightly, and despite ecologists calls for permeable surfaces, tarmac is king.
So what made me so furious this afternoon? The latest bungalow is being completed as I type. What are they laying in the garden? ASTROTURF!
I kid you not. Bright green, plastic Astroturf. To say that it looks effing awful is an understatement. To say that in a time when we’re being told we have to get rid of plastic, it’s a travesty, and that it does absolutely nothing for the ecology of the planet, are truisms.
I know what folk do with their own front gardens is none of my concern, but I found the bright green horror so offensive on all counts that I walked back home the long way to avoid having to look at it despite the fact that it had begun to rain, and I had no jacket. It made me want to give up, really it did.
There is one good thing, however. I don’t live opposite it and have to look at it from my window every day.
I think I would probably go insane.
I may take a few pocketsful of soil and seed and sprinkle a little on it every day as I walk past – if I can bring myself to walk there ever again. It would be a small act of revenge on behalf of this planet we are destroying yard by yard as surely as the builders are by laying this Astroturf. Yes, I may just do that…