Perspective: Pile on the pressure for a royal day

TWO types of tree figured prominently in my childhood.

One of them came into its own in the autumn when its fruit blossomed and fell to the ground, quite often assisted by lumps of wood being thrown into its branches.

Horse chestnuts are good looking, well proportioned trees but my interest in them as a lad was chiefly focused on the conkers they produced.

The other tree which caught my attention - all year round because there were two examples of them on the small green outside my home – was the oak.

These truly can grow into magnificent beasts of the natural world and it is not surprising that they have been a quintessential symbol of England for many a long year.


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It was diarist Samuel Pepys who suggested in the 17th century that the restoration of the monarchy in the shape of Charles II after the English Civil War should be celebrated each May as Royal Oak Day, or Oak Apple Day.

The idea was indeed taken up and what became a tradition lasted for nearly 200 years up until Victorian times.

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Now, I learn, the Woodland Trust aims to revive Royal Oak Day to mark 90,000 trees being recorded through its five-year Ancient Tree Hunt. In fact, it wants people to celebrate the day on Sunday by wearing a sprig of oak and recording an oak tree they know about on the charity’s website, helping it towards its goal of recording 100,000 trees online by October.

It seems the least one can do in appreciation of the ancient trees which have given many of us so much pleasure.

There are over 7,000 recorded oaks in the East of England. In bygone days, druids worshipped and practised in oak groves. They took their name from the Gaelic word duir, meaning oak.

More up to date, The Royal Oak is the third most popular pub name in Britain. There are more than 500 of them in England.

Talking about structures standing tall in the environment, I note there is a move on to make a man-made example of ugliness more ascetically acceptable.

Electricity pylons stand about 50 metres high, weigh around 30 tons and have been a virtually unchanged blot on the landscape since the 1920s. There are more than 88,000 of these horrors in the UK.

Now a competition, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects, has been launched inviting designs for a new generation of pylons.

As well as exploring the design of the pylon itself, the competition aims to look at the relationship between energy infrastructure and the environment within which it needs to be located.

Would-be entrants are further told the challenge is to design a pylon that has the potential to deliver for future generations while balancing the needs of local communities and preserving the beauty of the countryside.

If I were an architect, I would steer well clear of this venture as I’d be on a hiding to nothing.

The only way to improve the environment would be to bury all the cables and put the steel lattice towers into the recycling melting pot.

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