Researching my family history has been no mean feat, especially in view of the fact that my starting point, my great-grandfather, was a chap called Fred Smith who lived somewhere in Wiltshire – that was all I had to go on. Anyway, it’s surprising what you can discover and I have managed to trace the line back to the early 1700s.
One thing that strikes me is that nearly all of the men in my family have been listed by the census as ‘Ag Lab’ – agricultural Labourer. Peasant.
Every one of them, to a man, would be ashamed of me today.
Yesterday I spent the day pulling Himalayan Balsam as part of the MRA‘s Going Native project, aimed at eradicating invasive, non-native species from the Monnow catchment. Just six hours of manual labour has me searching for a place on my body that doesn’t ache. How on earth did the labourers of old do this every day?
To off-set the aches and pains I have the knowledge that the MRA has made huge strides towards the project’s aims, and going back to areas that 12 months ago were completely infested with HB I can see a huge improvement. The weed is mostly confined to isolated pockets which is easily pulled by teams of volunteers in a few short hours. That doesn’t mean that the job is anywhere near done – the whole-catchment, top to bottom approach means we will be going back over the ground that we have already sprayed/pulled for several years to come, and there is still a lot of un-touched ground in front of us but, there is hope – I have seen it. Monmouth beckons and we will be there sooner than anyone could have anticipated.
On behalf of the MRA I’d like to thank all of the volunteers who attended this weekend. I know some of you travelled from far afield to offer your assistance – your efforts are both vital and hugely appreciated.