Thursday, 10 April 2008

Contrasting legacies

On Saturday, I went out with a group of friends on a walk on the downs in Wiltshire and was enchanted by Wayland Smithy. The 5000 years old burial chambers with imposing stones, encircled by ancient trees overlooking the beautiful countryside cast a magical spell over me. When I looked up, I could see 5 wind turbines in the distance, dominating the skyline and I thought of the historical link between the two landmarks. I know that there are those who are not in favour of wind turbines, but on that day the wind was ferocious and no doubt, quite a few TVs and washing machines were operating on electricity generated by these modern giants.

We went on bravely in a blizzard as far as Uffington castle, and this time when I was admiring the views I was struck by the ugliness of the coal burning towers of the Didcot power station. There they were, very unappealing big lumps of concrete, churning out tons of grey smoke.

What a contrast, I thought between the eerie beauty of Wayland Smithy and Uffington Castle, left to us by our ancestors, blending with the surrounding countryside, and the brutality of a coal burning power plant. I wonder what people will find if they go for a walk between Wayland Smithy and Uffington Castle in 4008 AD – I bet the burial chambers and the castle will still be there, just as beautiful and intriguing as now, but hopefully, we will have left a better legacy than the power plant. Maybe, there will be a plaque on the ruins of the power plant referring to self-destructing button that mankind was pressing at the time when the power plant was operating. I will not so much mind the association of the wind turbines with my time in history as these are one of the first steps that we have taken in generating power from renewable resources.

As for our own bodily regeneration, we had tea and cakes in the beautiful grounds of Greys Court, not far from Didcot and Denman College. Greys Court, in care of National Trust, is the home of Lady Brunner’s family and it made a fitting end to an unintentionally meditative walk.

Jana Osborne

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