It’s exactly a year since Anticyclone Hartmut scythed across the UK and earned itself the dodgy title ‘The Beast from the East’, a name I always loathed as it just fed into the usual nonsense about everything bad being the fault of the foreigners. It’s weather, get over it!
If there is a lesson to be learned from last year’s weather it’s that climate change is accelerating and unless the governments of the world get serious about it we’re all going to be in terrible trouble. What with climate change, ecological destruction, pollution and extractive farming, there’s enough trouble to tax the abilities of the most gifted politicians; but the problem here in the UK is that our politicians are not remotely gifted, our universities are deeply in hock to the principal environmental offenders and half the population still think that Dunkirk was an historic victory. I loved this quote from the Irish President in today’s paper –
If we were coal miners we’d be up to our waists in dead canaries
Unfortunately our own government seems to be entirely preoccupied with searching for unicorns and so almost no thought is being applied to what, in the long run, are the really important problems. Last night on the TV news we heard from people who are already stockpiling food in case we crash out of Europe. I felt a bit bewildered by their choices of food to stockpile – mainly processed food like baked beans and so on. Then it occurred to me that we at the Potwell Inn are doing exactly the same but from a different angle. If there’s been any urgency about getting the allotment in perfect condition for the coming season it’s got a large element of the same instinct to make provision for the future. My best friend’s mum always stockpiled flour and potatoes in the winter because she was a Scotswoman who knew from a lifetime’s experience that she could feed her family of five with those stores, plus the produce from the garden. My mother, when her Altzheimers got bad, stockpiled spaghetti hoops – largely because of her memories of wartime shortages. And we fret about the allotment which, if things go badly wrong – will at least give us a supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. So day after day we work just a bit too hard and we’re so nearly there. The hotbed is planted up and the greenhouse and coldframes are full. The civil engineering phase is nearly over and tonight we went to the pub for a couple of celebratory pints.
5 thoughts on “1st anniversary of the Beast from the East”
On our last visit to Ireland, our friend was complaining that being in the EU was causing lots of problems. For instance, the EU declared that Ireland should grow hay, not food crops because they were very good at growing hay that the rest of the EU needed, and other members were better at growing food. The Irish felt very vulnerable at that, and I would feel the same. Who doesn’t want to have local food?
I completely agree that when EU agricultural policy becomes directive in that way it causes more harm than good. It happens that those of us who live in the West know that our high rainfall relative to the East favours grass production over arable crops, but you can’t separate the production of hay from the whole farming culture. It’s no accident that because we do well with grass, the dairy industry is larger here in the West. The nonsense comes in when we farm beef intensively and import high protein feed from all over the world instead of producing high value grass-fed beef, excellent milk and their associated products. I keep going back to Michael Pollan’s phrase “eat food, not too much, mostly veg”. The future, if there is going to be one, is local. So I’m not a doting fan of the EU, but UK farmers will be hammered if we leave our biggest free-trade area, and I don’t think consumers have really thought though the implications of tarriffs on imported food. Who wants to love on turnips for months? (Sheep do I suppose).
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