Sunday, 13 January 2013

Cow in a Bush

It's a very convenient and welcome thing, to come across a fire in the middle of nowhere on a raw cold afternoon.  For whatever reason, the local livestock wouldn't go anywhere near it.  In the second picture, a cow is actually hiding in a bush.

I say in the middle of nowhere, but something dramatic has happened at St. Catherine's Hill.  The recent application of a tarmac road surface to what was previously a muddy track along the bottom of the hill running beside the Itchen Navigation canal, has increased the visitor numbers tenfold.  The opening of the cycle-way across the Hockley Viaduct hasn't helped, either.  At various styles and gates there were actually queues, this afternoon.

Obviously, most of these folk aren't going to leave the path and actually venture onto the hill, at this time of year anyway.  A lot of people claim to like the countryside, but seem reluctant actually ever to get any of it on them.  However, we did see a couple of "Fenton the Dog" episodes developing, with hapless owners chasing poorly-trained off-leash dogs up hill and down dale, as they happily harried sheep.  This may explain the cow in the bush, of course.

I'd hate to think that, come the summer, this beautiful and atmospheric couple of square miles will have become just another leisure park, with all the turf on the paths eroded away by mountain bikes, and pic-nic litter blowing around.  A little more respect, please, people, eh?


Huw said...


I once came across cattle hiding in a bush. It's on Horsell common - one of my favourite parts as there's no parking and so few people.

A very carefully fenced off fire there.


Mike C. said...


Curious, cows clearly have a greater need for privacy than is provided by the average field...

Yes, these little fires (or more usually piles of ash) are scattered all over, where a scrub clearance programme is being carried out. They're always surrounded by a little fence like that.


Kent Wiley said...

But how's the brickwork? Didn't you say it was getting an upgrade?

Mike C. said...


You mean on the viaduct? It's done, though how extensively I don't know -- the area's been shut off during the restoration. A cycleway now exists along it, but access is still restricted.

To be honest I've lost interest in it, now it's been saved from ruin! They're always doing this to me...


Martin said...

When we were out walking, recently, we met a couple coming from the opposite direction. As we were about to pass each other the woman stopped, stared at our wellies and said, "Well, you're both dressed for the countryside." I nodded, and they trudged off in their mud-caked trainers. Luckily, they had their Nordic walking poles to keep them upright.

Mike C. said...


I love those sticks! You see someone come rowing towards you on a perfectly flat surface like a cross country skier, it's so deeply surreal I have to laugh.

I'm told they are a big help for people with back problems, though.


Gavin McL said...

Newcastle u Tyne has a "inner greenbelt" called the Town Moor which is the remains of the city's common land. Certain people had the right to graze cattle on the moor and when I was student plenty did and it wasn't unusual to meet small herds wandering the moor.
I remember making my way home on Guy Fawkes night to find a burnt out bonfire surrounded by the cattle who appeared to warming themselves by the embers - perhaps urban cattle are more used to random events and taking advantage of changes.
I was very sceptical of those nordic poles but I used a pair whilst climbing in the Scottish Highlands and surprisingly they do make a big difference on steep slopes and long days out on the hills. You do however look (and feel) a bit of a prat


Mike C. said...


I think the operative words there are "steep slopes"... A stick of some kind is always a good thing in hills, not least for fending off farm dogs.

I find looking and feeling like a prat is quite easily and cheaply achieved by a suitable choice of headgear.


Anonymous said...

My feeling on the headgear question these days is that I may look like a prat, but I'm a prat properly protected from the elements.

Martyn Cornell

Mike C. said...


Exactly -- at our age, looking like a prat is the default setting, anyway. Face it, it's what we're for.

I don't know what the male equivalent of "mutton dressed as lamb" is ("stewing steak served as veal"?) but I try to avoid it.

Course, it would help if they made clothes to fit the Mature Man. I can't even get my shoulders into most new jackets without ripping the seams, never mind do the thing up...

Must find out where Van Morrison gets his clothes...


eeyorn said...

I've long subscribed to Willie Dixon's immortal line

'I'm built for comfort, I ain't built for speed'

eeyorn said...

PS Cows like to seek shelter when they're trying to take a quick zzzzz, I suspect. Your subject's probably recovering from a night on the stiles.