"Narnia"There's been a bit of a spat going on in the local press between my Labour opponent and mostly CS Lewis supporter organisations about recent work that's been going on in the C S Lewis reserve at the end of Lewis Close. I went to take a look for myself yesterday in a few minutes during canvassing (don't tell my helpers but I needed a little break!).
It would be terribly easy to take a pop at Dee Sinclair who has been very involved in the local group that's been working with the Buck Berks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) to tidy it up and put in place a management program. But I won't. You can see from these pictures that there has been considerable felling - at least where it will be noticed by the entrance to the reserve and this has been the focus of the attacks in the local press on Dee and the group.
But you know, at least one of the trees looked as if it had not been felled so much as uprooted - surely a sign that it was dangerous anyway and due to come down - which is always sad, but a necessary evil to allow people to continue to use and enjoy the area in safety and for other plants and wildlife to thrive.
It is true that a little row of smaller trees near the entrance has been felled and that this reduces slightly the "mystery" of the place - you don't feel quite so much like you are entering the wild woods straight away, but I think it helps to draw you in towards the lake - the focal point of the whole reserve.
BBOWT are the local experts in conservation management of the natural environment. Places like this cannot be picked in aspic and nobody should expect it somehow to look exactly the same as when C S Lewis himself knew it - either before or after the recent felling. And they know what they're doing.
But most of all, the reserve is not for the occasional C S Lewis fan wanting to find "Narnia" in a few weeks over summer so much as it is for local people to enjoy all the year round, and, having wandered in there in the past and never found a soul, I found what looked like a young mum, now able to get the pushchair in with her two children and was telling them about Lewis and about the place and talking all sorts of children's authors to them. So that seems to me like a vote of confidence in the place.
But if you have strong feelings on the reserve, do as Dee has suggested in her letters to the Oxford Mail and go join up with the local group and participate. And as for me - the stumps from the big fallen tree provided a perfect place to rest a minute before going on canvassing!