Ilfracombe, North Devon - Credit: Anthony Brown / Alamy Stock Photo

A view from Ilfracombe - Dave Griffin

Dave Griffin

From my keyboard, both the Worm’s Head Causeway and Port Eynon, directly opposite Ilfracombe, are clearly visible. Today, the air is so clear I can make out its beach.

Through a telescope it is possible to see the Captain’s Table café specialising in that Welsh delicacy, sausages and chips, mainly to occupants of the nearby Skysea caravan park.

The view stunned my Essex visitors. I visited that pleasant spot on the Gower Peninsular, and it takes just under four hours via the Prince of Wales Bridge.

At night, too, the glittering lights of Swansea and Mumbles are discernible from my second-floor study. Not since the pre-industrial revolution days of sailing ships and horse-drawn ploughs has the air been so unpolluted.

A volunteer at Rhossili’s former coastguard station told me that through her monocular, buses can be seen ascending to Mullacott Cross. Britain is getting cleaner.

Two weeks ago, I enjoyed Filer’s Travel’s three-night Thames Tales trip to Greenwich during which our party took four mini-cruises along England’s longest river. Boat guides keenly celebrated the undeniable fact that the world’s dirtiest waterway, once declared virtually dead, now teems with life, and supports dozens of marine species and bird life.

Spectacular numbers of Coots, Kingfishers, Moorhens, Herons and Goldfinches have returned. The Thames, once condemned as an open sewer, is alive again, and tremendous progress has been made in making it sustainable for salmon. Mussels, eels and flounders are back, too, and thriving.

My childhood memories are of London’s blackened buildings and choking pea-souper smogs, one of which, in 1952, killed four thousand Londoners in a single week. The capital now feels transformed, and yet the doomsday merchants persist with warnings of the Earth’s imminent collapse into a catastrophic maelstrom of poison that menaces civilisation.

Humanity, these pessimists fear, has just fifteen years to save itself. The hell we face is described in leaflets handed out by zealots at my grandchildrens’ school gates, demanding kids persuade parents to get rid of their cars and refrain from taking foreign holidays.

The purpose is to stigmatise air travel, alongside a vision to revert mankind to a machine-free, disease-ridden, grime infested seventeenth century. We can expect plenty more gloom-laden foreboding from alarmists convinced that the recent heatwave is an ominous sign presaging our imminent mutual destruction.

Such despair defies the human spirit. Last month’s glorious weather was a welcome gift following a decade of miserable, damp, soggy summers.

The late comedian, Caroline Ahern, acclaimed a single sunny interval as a ‘Scorchio’ event. All who experienced the torrid summer months of 1976 will recall even higher temperatures that buckled rails and melted tarmac.

The Earth’s climate changes constantly; we’ll cope by adapting to it. Meanwhile, the more rational Ilfracombe’s Earth Repair Shop offers simple solutions and practical advice to protect our environment by reducing pollution and waste. Watch this space.

Big Brother At The Seaside

Close to the site of Ilfracombe’s new Water Sports Centre at Larkstone Cove, now in an advanced state of construction, a hideous metal column has been installed topped with a CCTV camera. What is the justification for this disproportionately tall Big Brother monstrosity?

Is North Devon Council expecting hordes of outlaws to invade the town? Why can’t we have instead cameras filming council meetings to see who turns up? Britain is risking notoriety for being the planet’s most spied upon population; cameras are constantly poking their intrusive lenses into every waking moment of our lives. Repressive North Korea’s state-controlled media has gleefully reported upon Britain’s unhealthy obsession with spycams.

Every yellow-vested official seems to be fitted with a bodycam, and even Wetherspoons staff wear them. How long before we all sport one? Maybe we could snap those in authority; how would they like being filmed?

Please, let’s reduce this morbid surveillance mentality. Contrary to their purpose, CCTV serves only to make areas feel less safe. It’s police boots we need, not prying eyes. CCTV just records crime. It rarely prevents it.

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