Country diary: a new use for my old stomping ground


Sandy, Bedfordshire: Returning to where I used to live, I did not know which garden marked where I last saw a skylark’s ascent, or which factory blocked the flightpath of partridges

Back in the 1980s, we moved into a new estate tacked on to the north end of town. For the resettling Londoners who occupied most of the houses, it must have been a strange country. Tiny dragons roamed by day and pinpricks of lunar light lit the embankment beyond our gardens on summer nights.

Within a few years, the lizards were gone (did other cats beside our neighbour’s catch them too?) and the glow-worms glowed no more, their memory outshone all year round by an industrial park and the floodlights of an all-weather sports pitch.

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