secret garden Caroline Smith

Caroline Smith

Ecological writer Satish Kumar once wrote that ‘unless you know Nature, you cannot love her’. Likewise, if we wish to protect England’s green and pleasant land, it’s important to get to know why. People who drop fast food litter, pollute our seas with oil and hunt our precious wildlife, obviously were never taught all about why our land is so beautiful and precious.

Buckinghamshire is a small and affluent county that is also home to the new town of Milton Keynes, a town built in a very different way. Many commuters to London live here, and the county is also being destroyed thanks to the HS2 high-speed train project, removing a lot of trees and wildlife.

a county being decimated by HS2 project

Much of the Chilterns is being destroyed to make way for the disastrous HS2 project, a fast-speed train that will kill 22,000 wildlife yearly once built, based on estimates of similar projects abroad. Experts say it won’t reduce climate change (some planned hubs are airports?) A report by wildlife experts says that HS2 bosses have got their calculations wrong, and instead suggest that HS2 remap existing routes (if the project goes ahead) to apply correct nature values. Critics say the money spent (colossal) would be better spent on updating rolling stock in areas with old rail tracks and carriages, and increasing bus and train transport in rural areas, which have seen their cancelled routes during the pandemic to never return. Read more on why slow trains are best for wildlife.

home to England’s longest canal

Grand Union Canal is England’s longest canal, which runs from London to Birmingham. Along the way it passes through many counties including Buckinghamshire. Leave busy London to discover the Chiltern hills and then voyage through rural Warwickshire and Northamptonshire before reaching Brum. Learn more on how to protect our historic canals.

a new-build community-owned village shop

Oakley Village Stores is a proposed new community shop that has just raised more than expected funding, so hopefully will open soon. Designed to a new-build at the rear of the village hall, it will also offer a decked outdoor seatng and a cafe selling drinks and cake. It will likely be owned by the Parish Council and set up as a Community Benefit Society with profits reinvented and volunteers mostly running the shop. It also aims to focus on selling local quality produce.

the home of historic Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park is home to the famous ‘code breakers’ during World War II. This English country estate housed clever staff who decrypted German Army and Air Force messages. Some say their work shortened the war by a few years.

One of the best-known codebreakers was Alan Turing, a mathematics graduate, whose work likely saved millions of lives. Yet in 1952 he was prosecuted for being gay, and had to accept chemical castration as an alternative to prison. He died from a cyanide-laced apple though no-one knows whether it was suicide, murder or an accident (he used to conduct experiments in his house). In recent years, he received a public apology from Gordon Brown (when Prime Minister) and a pardon from the Queen, for the appalling treatment he received.

home to many stately homes

Buckinghamshire has more stately homes than most places, including Cliveden House. This was the scene of one of the most reported political scandals ever during 1961, at the peak of the Cold War. John Profumo’s affair with 19-year old Christine Keeler (who was accused of also having an affair with a Russian spy) brought politics into disrepute. Mandy Rice-Davies (who was accused of having an affair with Lord Astor, whose family owned Clivedon House) became famous for her remark during the trial when the defence counsel, who suggested she was lying ‘Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?’

home to England’s last ‘New Town’

Milton Keynes is known as a ‘New Town’ that was recently built. Actually it has some really good features including over 22 million trees, 5000 acres of parks, rivers, lakes and woods, and no-one being less than half a mile from a public park. It also has more bridges than Venice and shoreline walks around its lakes. Despite being a New town, it’s also home to many listed buildings.

It’s also home to the Open University, where you can take a degree by distance. Unfortunately it still uses outdated animal tests for some degrees, even though there are much better humane options available. Fortunately there are now alternatives like LearnDirect.

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