Countryside around Littlehampton is vanishing beneath ‘a sea of concrete’

The Selborne oak can yet be saved. We have a quote from a local tree specialist, we have the blessing of the owner – the originator of the application to fell her – and the morris dancers and the green man ready to ‘dress her’ for the winter solstice. All we need now is the money...

She can be lopped, cleared of dead wood and ivy, pollarded and made safe for passing wayfarers. It may be a long while before she recovers and once again wears her Sunday best but there is a better than fair chance she will.

Whispering Smith: Watching the tractors working the fields stirred up childhood memories

Whispering Smith: Watching the tractors working the fields stirred up childhood memories

So far, with the involvement of the local community. including the owner who was well within his rights with the ‘blessing’ of Arun District Council’s planning committee to fell her, we have pledges of more than £300 of the £950 needed for the work.

Now it really is up to we, those of us who objected in writing to the planning application and the many who offered us their verbal support in High Street and in tavern.

Write to me, email or message me with a pledge for your donation and I will contact you as to if and when the money is needed.

Hey, ho. The axe man passeth silently by and the green man noisily cometh. I look forward to hearing from you.

|Also in the news - a Littlehampton mum has called on dog owners to show some respect after counting 27 piles of dog mess; a man who lost all his belongings in a suspected arson in Rustington said his memories have been taken from him; and a student from Littlehampton got the chance to speak to Harry and Meghan on their official Sussex visit|

WHILST it is still possible to save the old oak tree some things are beyond rescue.

The lovely countryside around Littlehampton, the wide-open spaces that are so part of seaside Sussex are fast vanishing to be buried beneath a sea of concrete, Tarmac and red brick.

Our whole area has suffered so much change over the last 30 or so years as to become unrecognisable, and the devastation continues.

We are no longer ‘a place in the country’ and one must travel further and further afield to regain that feeling of living where the fox and the hare run free.

Driving along the old Ford Road last week, I paused to watch two red tractors working one of the lovely fields sleeping in the shade of the ragged horse chestnut trees.

One was turning the rich toffee coloured soil and the other drawing the harrow, breaking the sods ready for the autumn planting.

The pair were beleaguered by a restless gathering of gulls and crows, the noisy black and white cloud clearing a feast of bugs and worms.

Memories of a young John Helyer and his yellow caterpillar tractor working those fields now buried beneath the Beaumont Estate, and of Worzel Gummidge and Scatterbrook Farm’s ten-acre field, a much-loved book of my childhood.

Here another lovely rural site soon to be no more.

I am told the field with its rich, dark soil is earmarked for housing and that this year may well be the last time it will feel the bite of the plough. How inevitable is that?

I took my photograph and moved on, glad that I had happened along at that particular moment in time and saddened that the lovely moment would be never more.

MY neighbour and me were so fed up with looking at the 50-odd yards of uncut, beer can, dog mess littered grass verge at the end of our road that we decided to clear it, cut it and neaten the whole thing up.

This we did and it looks a whole heap better.

Perhaps, in these austere times with our cash-strapped councils, we all need to look at our surroundings and see what we can do to improve them.

• If you would like to get in touch with Whispering Smith, please email: whisperingsmith1@gmail.com

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