Country boy in the big city: wildlife and nature

As you can expect, being from the countryside, the wildlife and nature around me is very much extensive all year round. Whether it’s the birds that wake me up at silly o’clock with their harmonious bird song, the squirrels that torment my pet cat or the farm animals that roam the mile long fields around my village, there is always some form of nature around Brayton.

If it hadn’t already sealed it’s status as a rural gem right in the heart of North Yorkshire, it has five stables on the edge of my village. Brought up to be sporting, I was surprised that I had never rode a horse at this point in my life but given that I have the balance of a toddler on ice, the surprise dissipates in seconds.

My village also features a canal path that leads right down to the surrounding villages around me and unless you count children that have almost been left in the country pub by their parents, a lot of deer and rabbits can be found on this particular route. Scurrying about in the undergrowth like me trying to make a 9am, the deer herd have recently made their way almost next to the housing estate that runs parallel to mine. While this excites the young children to an unfamiliar degree, a lot of farmers around my area are eyeing up the next veal burgers.

While Brayton can be described as quaint, they have all the characteristics of a British village and hunting is certainly one of them. My personal view is to leave all nature to it’s own devices but if Rupert and Henrietta want to go hunting on a Saturday morning with daddy then it’s their prerogative to.

In addition to the previously mentioned wildlife that makes up Brayton’s nature, I have missed one of the largest (and smelliest) features of living in a village; farms. Producers of lovely fruit, vegetables, meats and crops, farms do their fair share around Brayton of providing residents with fresh produce. Whether this is the breads, cheeses or chutneys, the farm shop do a fantastic job of keeping the supermarkets at bay.

Despite this been all well and good, village dwellers will only understand the true plight of living near a farm. For all the cheeses, breads and chutneys the farm give you, the smell of muck spreading season will have you dashing for a bucket faster then you can say ‘darling, we’re moving to the city at the weekend’.

This is of course a natural process and one that’s unavoidable but it’s an annoyance all the same. The conundrum of ‘should I open the window or be greeted with the smell of faecal matter’ shouldn’t even have to be a choice for anyone and one I’m hesitant to make over the long hot summer months.

‘The great pong’ as it was once termed by my dad one day as my family sought refuge in the form of the living room after a fresh round of muck spreading had hit the village was making moving to university that bit easier.

For all the farmland around Lincolnshire, I believed there would be more ‘country smells’ about but in the first few months of living there, there was nothing. Granted, in a city centre, there wouldn’t be any farm smells but even when walking along fields out on the edges of the historic city, the smell is at a minimum. If anything, the Brayford Wharf on a warm day kicked out more of a pong than anything around Lincoln.

While a reduced aroma was in full swing, a lack of wildlife and nature was also a feature of my first year in Lincoln. There is however an animal so synonymous to the city that you will see it everywhere. The elegant swan is seen up and down the country but in no other place in the UK could you see a swan as the university mascot, on the logos of a lot of businesses and as the name of the university pub.

Another thing that surprised me as I moved into my second year house was the addition of a stable down the same street. While this would go unnoticed and be branded as normal in a village or town, in the middle of a city, a stable is the kind of thing that would draw more attention than wearing a tartan suit down your local.

The stable is small, houses about three or four horses but the fact remained, there was more nature in this historic city than I first thought. I believed that when I first moved there in the summer of 2015, the harvester pub on the waterfront was the nearest I would come to true nature. However, unbeknownst to me, since the stable moved in down the street, there seems to have been an inundation of wildlife right on the doorstop. The rabbits on the field at the end of my street, the horses on the south common, they have all been previously missed by me but I’m finally seeing Lincoln for what it is; a beautiful wildlife epicentre.

So my advice to people moving from a village to a city for university is that a nose peg for the pong is not required, swans are sacred animals in Lincoln and if your name is Rupert or Henrietta, there’ll be no hunting with daddy on a Saturday morning at university.

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