We're currently on holiday in the Cotswolds. It's a grey, damp day out there, and both of us had SCA paperwork to complete, so we're making use of the wifi connection in the cottage. It's not as good as the connection at home, but it's still perfectly usable.

There is a thing that is puzzling me as I look around here, and as we travelled across from Ufton Nervet to Burford and Burford to here (here being the charmingly named Upper Slaughter). Namely, everything is very neat. I don't just mean that things are well-kept, although that's true (except for the roads, which occasionally achieve 'decent', but don't always make it). I mean more that there is overall care taken for the look of the landscape.

In Ireland, we have (some) scenic villages with old stonework and thatched cottages. And less than 200m from the scenic zone, as it were, you'll have an estate of modern 2- and 3-bed semi-detached houses, and a crop of white bungalows extending to the next village. These houses are nothing bad in and of themselves, but they don't match the landscape the way the older buildings do, and they're right there on top of them.

In comparison, Upper Slaughter seems to have only a very few 20th century buildings. They're built from the same sandstone, have the same slate roofs, and if it weren't for their more modern window shapes, I don't know that I could tell the difference. In another few decades of weathering, they'll have blended pretty completely with the 16th and 17th century neighbours. The same is true in Lower Slaughter, and in the countryside all the way up to Stow on the Wold, which has a few modern buildings tucked into places they can't be much seen. Burford has a good kilometre of village street, all of which dates to before 1900. This includes two or three banks and a Co-op supermarket.

Further, the hedges are neatly trimmed, there are areas of woodland (named on the map as Something Copse or Someone's Wood), there are sizable trees in the hedgerows, there are public footpaths everywhere, including through fields, and there are footbridges, styles, kissing gates, two-in-one gates and so forth all over the place. Any area which is too damp to be a real field (and there are plenty) is given over to be woodland or wetland, not left as a soggy, useless field.

I'm sure this is the result of being some sort of special conservation area. But the point is that we don't seem to be able to do that at all in Ireland. We can manage the "no new houses" thing in parts of Wicklow and Kerry. But that doesn't seem to get rid of the horrors constructed in the 60s and 70s, and it doesn't stop the construction of new bungalows as far into the scenic areas as permission can be persuaded. Where it occurs, it's a plain ban on new houses; those that are constructed in traditional forms as well as monstrosities. We just plain can't do hedgerows, as far as I can see.

I have been trying to think why this is, rather than merely decrying it, but I can't see any good reason. Unless it's "the British made us have orderly landscapes and now we don't have to no more, so there", which is a rather poor reason.

From: [identity profile] badgersandjam.livejournal.com


I've always thought that about the Vale of Evesham, Moreton-in-Marsh, etc. They must have council estates, but they do a damn good job of hiding them. Hedgerows are of course relatively recent in the scheme of things, post-enclosure and all that. But they have come to exemplify a certain type of countryside, esp. in England.

I must admit I've been appalled by the level of building in Galway that seems a) to not get completed and b) just sit empty. I didn't really poddle around other areas enough to notice if it were the same.
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From: [identity profile] gothwalk.livejournal.com


I don't think anyone currently farming in Ireland has any real concept of pre-enclosure agriculture, to be honest. Most Irish thinking goes back as far as 1850 or so, blames the British, and is content to regard everything 'before' as something un-formed and un-described.

Galway isn't the worst, I don't think, but it shows the kind of problem. And even if they were completed and lived in, they'd be cheap buildings, ugly in the context of the landscape.

From: [identity profile] niallm.livejournal.com


I have a poorly-formed theory about the relationship between the rural and the urban in the Irish "cultural collective mind"; in this particular case, the rural would be saying that the landscape is for humans to use and exploit, therefore no particular care should be taken in its treatment save maximum convenience. The urban mindset instead argues for its preservation because the experience of the rural, to the urban, is othered.
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