Hugs – The Pioneer Paradox

If you had a massive farm and it was losing money year after year, what would you do? This was the dilemma facing Isabella Tree and her husband at Knepp in Sussex. They ran a mixed arable and dairy operation, but global overproduction and falling prices meant they couldn’t keep their heads above water. To cap it all, the launch of Häagen-Dazs stomped all over sales of their successful ice cream brand.
What they did next is recorded in Isabella Tree’s book, Wilding. It’s an inspiring tale – their plans to try to replicate an older, wilder landscape were regarded with suspicion by many. In particular they were thwarted by scientists and policy-makers who wanted proof that the thing they wanted to try would work before they’d even started.
It’s the pioneer’s paradox: you want to set out in a bold new direction, but you find yourself hampered by the doubts and fears (often based on speculation) of the establishment.
One set of pioneers who are persevering – and with brilliant success – is Sustrans. The railway line is an incredible asset for walkers and cyclists, and the closure of Chilton Road to complete the largely car-free route to Harwell could be another.
Sustrans is worried that after lockdown there’ll be an unprecedented return to the roads. Public transport will have much-reduced capacity so everyone will use their cars, creating congestion, pollution and emissions. We’ll emerge from one crisis only to exacerbate another. Part of the solution Sustrans proposes is to remove every possible barrier to allowing people to circulate on foot and bike including e-bike.
More bicycles, cargo bikes, free bike servicing, dedicated bike and pedestrian lanes – these are the kinds of things that will help us be mobile, healthy and resilient in future. The pioneers of the bicycle, once ridiculed as eccentrics and fanatics, would be cock-a-hoop.
It is with great sadness that we report the deaths of two of our oldest residents who have lived in the village for a long time.
Muriel Wright our oldest resident and probably the oldest ever resident of Upton, died on 6th January at the age of 106 years 7 months and 10 days.
Alec Chennery died on 29th November aged 89. Alec moved into a new bungalow in Newman’s Close with his wife Yvonne in 1962. He worked in Research Reactor group at Harwell and was a member of the team that built our village hall.