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Archive for July 21st, 2007

Flooding

When Perth flooded last, people whose houses were damaged were out of them for 6 months while their homes were dried out and put back together.     So my thoughts are with the huge number of people who have had to leave their houses in the flooded areas of England – they face long haul to get things back to normal.    It is a truly appalling catastrophe.

The plight of people and their homes, traffic trying to manage and boats sailing down High Streets is always first to hit the TV screens, and rightly so.     But the vast areas of countryside underwater represent acres of spoilt crops and grass.   The crops will be unharvestable, and the grass too waterlogged for grazing, meaning that livestock may have been brought inside into farm buildings and already consuming their ‘winter feed’.   Quite apart from the effect on individual farmers’ livelihoods, the flooding is bound to push up the price of food in the shops.

Like all farmers in the UK, I have to ‘set-aside’ some of my farm to take it out of production.    Set-aside has never been popular with farmers or the public, except possibly the environmentalists.    Farmers hate it because they know that they should be using their land for producing food, not weeds;   the public hate it because they see farmers being paid ‘to do nothing’.   (Actually set-aside does have management costs).   

Happily there is talk of set-aside being fixed at 0% for next year – although there is a tremendous amount of European red tape to get through to ratify this (and we are in the summer recess apparently).    Already the environmentalists are worried.

Actually, we have incredibly cheap food at the moment.   Food as a percentage of the family spend is much much less than it was 25 years ago.    We could be in for quite a shock as the damage to the countryside is added up over the next few crucial weeks as the main cereal harvest approaches.

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Reading to Children

Both our children were read to every night at bedtime.

Being selfish about this, I have to admit really looking forward to this part of the day.    From early books like the Hungry Catepillar, through Dr Seuss, and eventually progressing on to Narnia (all 7 books), Little House books (7, I think), Moonimtroll (several books, which started off brilliantly but became rather too odd eventually – Memoirs of Moominpappa especially).    There were some surprises like Wind in the Willows, which went really well until the chapter called “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” which was simply uncomprehensible for a child.

Funny stories, frightening stories, and some tales which were so heartachingly beautiful, they were a real struggle to get through.

This was all before Harry Potter of course, and both children are now far too old to be read to, but they do both read.

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Harry Potter

What a publishing event! – stores and bookshops open at midnight with crowds of people buying the last Harry Potter book.    Quite unprecedented I think.

 It is easy to be cynical, but you have to hand it to JK Rowling that through these books she has changed the face of children’s literature (and big children’s literature).    Children who have tackled these big volumes on their own will have the confidence to try other books too.

I read the first three, and enjoyed the third book best, but never got round to going any further, although I have seen the first four films.   

We actually have all the books in the house now as boy b/d wandered into ASDA last night after seeing the latest Harry Potter film (takes a while to get going, he says) and bought a copy for £5.   He has read it completely, and girl b/d is now reading it.     It even beats the attractions of MSN and Facebook, which takes some doing, let me tell you.  

The ending has not been discussed yet.

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