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Weston Super Mare, Somerset, United Kingdom
Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Robin Whitlock. I am a freelance journalist with a special interest in environmental issues and renewable energy. I have numerous published articles to my credit and write regularly for a number of renewable energy websites. I am also a writer for Renewable Energy Magazine and a sub-editor for Renewable Energy Focus. I am currently based in Bristol, UK. Besides renewable energy and green issues I have a wide variety of other interests which includes World War 2, mythology and folklore, gardening, railways and lots more besides. You can also reach me on either of my two email addresses, which are: robinwhitlock66@hotmail.com and robinwhitlock1966@gmail.com Thanks!

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Hire Me!! - Freelance Journalist specializing in environmental issues and renewable energy
Writer for Renewable Energy Magazine
Sub-editor for Renewable Energy Focus
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Published in numerous national magazines
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Thursday, 14 August 2014

The joy of climbing trees

When I was a boy I often used to relieve myself from the boredom of helping my Dad on his allotment (I am glad to say gardening has since been included in my list of interests, but back then I found it tiresome), by climbing into a rather squat beech tree by the alloment perimeter fence. There was a hollow at the point where the branches started to divert from the main trunk into which I squeeze myself and watch the world go by, hidden by foliage.

I've just read, admittedly in the Daily Mail, that Bristol City Council has placed a ban on children climbing trees in the city's parks and gardens. My response to that? Oh poo!!

I could go on for ages about how tree climbing, though admittedly dangerous to an extent, is great for kids for a whole range of reasons. It is good for health and building strength, it is good for teaching oneself about problem solving and the importance of observation, planning and preparation. And so on.

However, more importantly in some ways I feel is that tree-climbing is an endemic and important part of our human tradition and almost a 'rite of passage' for boys in particular. And where best to observe this than in literature?

J. M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan by his memories of encounters with the Llewellyn-Davies boys in Kensington Gardens.

The American preservationist and naturalist John Muir writes of climbing a 100 foot Douglas Spruce following a storm in California and gazing out over the forest "kindled into one continuous blaze of white sun-fire".

Rupert Brooke went tree-climbing with the Olivier girls and together they mused on how growing up into middle age must surely be an appalling tragedy. "Is there a greater tragedy than for a boy to die, except for him to grow old, to live!" Brooke wrote in a letter to a friend. 

"One could do worse than be a swinger of birches" wrote the poet Robert Frost.

According to Robert McFarlane, writing in The Guardian, these works are now little-read, which in my opinion is, in itself, a great tragedy.

Along with the day when the powers-that-be finally, successfully, manage to stop children climbing trees, something that I hope, and expect, fortunately, will never happen. 

1 comment:

  1. As an aside to this: Martin Fodor, responded to the post claiming, convincingly in my view, that Bristol City Council's supposed ban on children climbing trees is not actually accurate and that it was a Lib Dem attack... to let Martin speak for himself on this, he says: ".....except it's not true, however. This was a LibDem attack comment in the last election (against me - though I won the Redland seat by a landslide, anyway, and they lost).
    The Mayor's Cabinet Member dealing with issues of antisocial behaviour brought forward proposals for proposed ByeLaws (discretionary powers for the council) that would have included the option to use them in extreme circumstances. All the city's local community Park Groups agree on the need for local ByeLaws to deal with possible situations. One of them dealt with tree climbing incidents, not everyday children scrambling up trees, of course. It's not law and would simply allow council staff and PCSOs to deal with majopr incidents. The Cabinet Member leading on this is a Lib Dem. When the Mayor saw the proposals just before Cabinet they were put back for review, so are a bit delayed. The Redland LibDem candidated cited these withdrawn proposals against me in the local campaign as on the day of the Cabinet the Green Cabinet Member was asked to be interviewed to cover for the other's absence. Meanwhile the proposals were being withdrawn, but the interview was still broadcast. And the LibDems still said it was a Green proposal and condemned it, when it came from their own party's Cabinet Member!
    Anyway: there will still be ByeLaws as without them there is only recourse to inappropriate criminal law for whatever happens in parks.
    I think it's a storm in a teacup and not really worth worrying about, frankly."