Echo editor: Dry stone walling is an art form which must be preserved
WILLIAM Blake's iconic opening line of Jerusalem – 'England's Green and Pleasant Land' – conjures up a sense of celebration about the bounty and beauty of the countryside.
The patchwork of fields which make up our rural areas are marked out and held together by a tradition which dates back centuries.
Our tradition of dry stone walling is not just about providing a long lasting structure which complements the landscape. It is as much about what the process represents as the end result.
For behind this – what can only be described as time-consuming – skill is a love affair with the countryside and the need to preserve it for our children's children to enjoy.
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For generations, fathers and sons have been braving all weathers to create these walls, but as time has gone on, modern life has perhaps interrupted such a tradition and the skills are not passed on as much.
Courses are now run to teach people the art of dry stone walling in a bid to preserve the look of our rural landscape.
Prince Charles and Princess Anne have also got in on the act of promoting dry stone walling and rightly so.
The county is already blessed with inspirational scenery which could make even the likes of Blake lost for words, but it needs future craftsmen and women to help preserve its look for generations to come.
WHEN you think of pigeon racing, there are a few things that come to mind – namely flat caps and Jack Duckworth.
Yet there is more to this sport than meets the eye and if Heather Davies has her way, there could be a whole new generation of fanciers – and female ones at that.
It is not a usual hobby for a seven-year-old girl, but why not?
Most youngsters are influenced by the passions of their parents, whether is their chosen football team or first foray into music and for Heather it is birds.
Pigeon racing is not only helping her to take responsibility for looking after animals but also she is getting to learn about geography as well.
It may not be the most glamorous of sports but like anything, without fresh young blood to carry on the tradition, it will die out. So let's hope Heather's quest to encourage new members does the trick.