To all card-carrying countryphiles.
If you can believe the press, most of the 82% of the nation who live in built up areas subscribe to Christopher Marlowe’s Passionate Pilgrim – an idyllic vision of rustic romance beyond the greenbelt:
Come live with me and be my love,/ And we will all the pleasures prove/That hills and valleys, dale and field,/And all the craggy mountains yield./There we will sit upon the rocks/And see the shepherds feed their flocks,/By shallow rivers , to whose falls/Melodious birds sing madrigals.
Whilst city dwellers might feel uncomfortable living in the countryside they still want to take in the beauty and fresh air on occasions, as a pleasure. Visitors flock to our Ashridge acres because it is an oasis of picturesque calm, outside of the regular hustle and bustle of everyday life – they look for quiet enjoyment.
Four hundred years ago when Marlowe penned his poem, it was only the likes of the Bridgewaters who had much time or regard for pleasure and enjoyment at Ashridge, unlike today. So we must no doubt expect even greater numbers of visitors in the New Year. The townies will soon be coming for the green shoots of Spring pushing up through the earth, bursting buds on the trees, the bluebells and gamboling white lambs, and the bosky valleys full of melodious birds singing madrigals.
With this in mind , the volunteers will be recording the demographics of the visitors over the next few months, to help the Trust plan for the expected influx.
Happy days to you in the year ahead.