I recently had a conversation with our accountant, during which he told me about the plans that his local council had for allowing the development of a huge local vegetable allotment site, of which he was a member and had over the last few years been finding pleasure in growing his own fruit and vegetables. There are supposed to be over 900 new houses to be built on the site. Although sad and frustrated at the potential loss of his allotment plot, he commented that perhaps houses are, after all, more important than allotment plots. I had to disagree strongly.
I would say that all too often developers get their sweaty little hands on 'green' land, but I would be wrong. They nearly ALWAYS do! To me they are one of the main problems in today's society. We are seeing an ever increasing loss of green space due to the greedy nature of property developers, all trying to justify their actions in some way or another. Whilst these large developments are being built, the sweaty palmed developers are quite happy to see more and more green land swallowed up so that they can increase their own bank balance, just as long as they can live elsewhere, somewhere not quite so obnoxious to them. As a result, the green land is lost forever.
I feel strongly about such matters, as in my mind green space is more vital to human existence than a roof over one's head. Of course there are those who are quite content to live in a concrete jungle, but most people need access to green space, whether it be their own, or an area near to them. Modern developers see garden space as only potential building land.
So there I found myself in Bath once more, a city that has 'Regency' oozing out of every corner. During our stay we had both been booked for a spa session and massage at the Thermae Spa. Something that we always do to help recharge and invigorate, alas, on this occasion I had just previously gained a bout of eczema that gave me the look of a plague victim, and embarrassment got the better of me and I had to back out. Not to waste two tickets, Amanda (not too unwillingly) still went ahead, and I decided to roam the city and do some probing about on my own. In many ways, the Georgian developers got it right in terms of a balance between large development and garden space.
The Royal Crescent
As with the Royal Crescent, most of Bath is made up of Regency houses, with in most cases four levels above ground, and two below ground level. It was those below ground level that I was interested in, but in particular the level just below pavement height.
Georgian terraces have large enclosed gardens to the rear, and to the front, stone access 'pits', most of which haven't changed since the days of staff using them to access their working areas downstairs. Nowadays, in a world where life is getting faster and faster, some people are utilising these spaces to their advantage, as a little green place to relax, even though there is the hustle and bustle of the city pavement above.
Originally, these houses would have been owned by one family, with servants living in the lowest and highest rooms. Now the large buildings are converted into anywhere between 6 and 10 large apartments, and to me the lucky people are those who manage to bag an apartment just below ground level.
As humans we crave plant life around us in some form or another, and will seek to achieve that in whatever way is available to us, whether it be a window box in New York, or ten acres of garden in Richmond.
The hidden gardens of Bath fascinated me, and I got many a strange look as I positioned myself with camera to catch just a few of these horticultural treasures.
Some people had gone to great lengths to recreate a normal garden feel.
I tried hard to take a few pictures of some of the rear gardens, but the walls were too high, and having climbed and jumped on a few occasions, I had to be careful to not get arrested for being a peeping tom.
But you get an idea of what can be found at the back of these properties.
Although it was was a warm afternoon, I didn't see anyone in their garden, but it was obvious that these spaces are used a lot.
I wished that I could afford to buy an apartment here, if only to set my imagination free on one of these outside spaces, and in particular the larger one in these pictures.
I 'peeped' everywhere at the Royal Crescent too, and quite liked the formality and simplicity of this vertical garden.
Some candles, a summer evening, and a warm glass of Malbec came to mind, as I imagined myself comfortably seated and tucked away next to the potted Phormium.
Oh, the possibilities and ideas are endless, and I struggled to understand why every one of these spaces in the city hadn't been utilised in such a way. Maybe they will eventually.
And finally, where there is no sunken area to create outside space, a balcony must suffice.
Like I said, a green space is vital to us all. I follow many blogs, and not just through Blogger, and even though the subject matter of all of them vary considerably, the one underlying feature that is consistent is the desire for green space of some kind. Sometimes the entire blog is about gardening, and at other times there is just the subtlest mention of a vase of flowers being placed somewhere. But in every case there is a necessity. Now we just have to bring the developers on board.
I had walked for miles, and discovered parks and gardens that I hadn't seen before. Four hours had passed so quickly, and I made my way to the Crystal Palace for a beer, in readiness for Amanda to arrive and tell me how her experience had been. I was tired and could have done with that full massage now!