We used to live in a farmhouse on the outskirts of town. There was considerable hedging and many trees which I used to climb to prune. Two cats and one pheasant lie buried in the grounds.
When I came home from work of an evening, the bus passed open fields before it reached us. Below is a small part of what used to be one of those fields, now covered in houses with driveways and garages.
The planners insisted that an old footpath by the impressive name of the Via Regis be kept – and it is still there if you know where to look for it. But now there is no field to either side, as once there was. Dog walkers don’t like this so much. Neither do dogs. I was just chewing over this sad state of affairs with Buster the Staffie the other day when he spotted a lamppost and ran off.
If I stayed on the bus past my stop, (as sometimes happened when I dozed off en route), I would see more open ground on the left. Now this is also covered by a large housing estate.
The same has happened with ground to the right, now another large housing estate called The Murrays.
Its route then takes the bus past West Edge Farm on its way to the town of Bonnyrigg. Bonnyrigg used to have a thriving market on a Thursday morning, but apartment blocks are now being built on the the ground. Though in a nod to history the developer has called this development The Market.
Not so long ago there were fields on both sides of the road, and if the driver of the bus (Number 31, for those who like to know such things) had turned right by mistake at the top of the brae onto the Lang Loan, she would have seen a large expanse of agricultural land to her right. Here is a small part of what is on that land now.
A cottage on the outskirts of one of the fields is now surrounded by construction work and their bus stop has just been taken out of service for eight weeks. There is a helpful sign, though: USE AN ALTERNATIVE. Yes, thanks for that.
Much of the land at the Lang Loan has now been built over and even more is under construction. And the same is true of the land at West Edge Farm.
The collective acreage of all this is considerable, with ground being built on and paved over on a large scale.
At least two questions arise here. Will this land provide a habitat for living things when all this work has been completed? Even if the answer is a limited yes, not so much as before. Hedgehogs used to live here. Now they don’t. It is many years since I’ve seen one and I read that the hedgehog population has suffered a large decline.
The other issue is water. A large acreage of soil which used to absorb rain is now trapped under houses, streets and pavements. Where all the water supposed to go? Floods, anyone?
But people have to live somewhere, right?
Well, yes, they do. Though compared to previous times when tenements were popular, the same number of people are spreading themselves over far more ground than before.
And, to tie in to the theme of The Ears of a Cat, I would contend that there are too many people anyway.
Which makes me part of the problem I am describing.