It all led me to ruminate once more on one of my chief worries. Although perhaps to describe it as a worry is putting it a bit strongly. It doesn't bother me enough to keep me awake at night and I don't think it will really come to pass before I'm pushing up the daisies. Or, more likely, fertilizing the roses.
My worry is this: what will happen when every village has swollen to become a town and every town has swollen to become a conurbation? I live in Patcham, right on the northern edge of the city of Brighton & Hove. Less than a hundred years ago, Patcham was a small village. Back then, Preston was an even smaller village about halfway between Patcham and the wicked city of Brighton. Since then, Brighton has swallowed up Saltdean, Rottingdean, Bevendean, Patcham, Preston and other what are now areas such as Hollingbury, Hollingdean, Coldean and Moulsecoombe. What was the small town of Hove expanded to take in Aldrington, West Blatchington, Hangleton and even the town of Portslade. Now the coastal conurbation spreads a distance of some 30 miles, from Littlehampton in the west to Seaford in the east. How long will it be before Littlehampton joins up with Bognor and Seaford with Eastbourne?
England is already the most densely populated country in Europe - after Monaco, Vatican City, Malta and San Marino and I'm not sure that, Malta apart, they count as "real" countries. And our population continues to grow, due, very largely, to immigration. We already have a shortage of housing and more homes are needed to house our existing population. With people living longer, a net inward migration and the increase in the number of broken marriages, there is going to be more and more pressure for house-building to be allowed on green belts. And a growing population will need more than just houses. Schools, hospitals, work places, water treatment facilities, power stations, roads, shops - all add to the destruction of England's "green and pleasant land".
I know we won't see the complete concreting of, for example, the South Downs in my lifetime, but what about my grandchildren? Will their children ever see a wood or a green field?
That's my worry - and there seems to be precious little I can do to ease it.
I don't think I can do much more than enjoy the view while it is there, like this summer scene looking across the Downs from High Park Wood.