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Reflections On A Visit To Chipperfield

2nd of November 2002

Its some time since Ive written but, having recently spent a few weeks in Chipperfield with my parents, I wanted to say how very much Id enjoyed my visit and appreciated the opportunity to catch up with family and the many friends that I have in the area. My visits with my family are increasingly precious with the passing years and this visit was particularly special, as I spent more time with my parents and also managed to meet with a few people Id not seen for more years than I care to remember! This time my visit was in your summer (our winter!), so for the first time in several years I walked through the village a fair amount. For the most part little had changed in the last 5 years or so. However, to me, there were a few noticeable changes that I found disconcerting. Firstly, it was sad to see the changes in the flora and fauna; I saw fewer birds such as blackbirds, thrushes and, of course, the once ubiquitous house sparrow than on my previous visits. Ive seen more of these birds on recent trips to the south of Australia and New Zealand! Then there are the hedgerow and woodland areas that appear to be becoming increasingly choked with blackberry brambles and nettles. I know that these were around when I was a child (vivid memories of stings and scratches!), but Im convinced that they cover much larger areas now. I appreciate that these problems are not unique to Chipperfield. The second change was in the number of cars, which, again, isnt unique to Chipperfield, but it still saddens me to see the effects on the village. Not so long ago there would be one car, at most, parked outside houses. Now, front gardens have been replaced by concrete and gravel car parks for 2, 3 or 4 vehicles. Sadly, too, many drivers appear to show a complete disregard for speed limits around the village (and elsewhere). The third, and to me the most disturbing, trend is the style of housing in the village. So many of the pleasant, modest homes have been extended into very large houses. This trend saddens me because that type of housing means that young people, whose families may have been village residents for several generations, will be unable to afford to remain in the village when they leave home. In spite of these changes, Chipperfield is still a very special village and it was an absolute joy for me to be there for a few weeks. One thing that the village certainly has going for it is the friendly atmosphere; so many people kindly spared some time to exchange a few words with me and to make me feel welcome, and for that I thank them. It really made me feel that I have another home on the other side of the world.
Carol Petherick

 
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