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Some weeks ago, shortly after breakfast, I looked out of my front room window to see that there were several cows wandering down our road and exploring the front gardens. The very fact that I said ‘cows’ reveals the truth that I am a towny.

They were I think, bullocks, and they had escaped from a field just outside the village. I think they were not enjoying their new-found freedom, and began to low very loudly, which I took to be a sign of distress. Fortunately, some of my neighbours have farming backgrounds and gathered the lost animals together. The farmer soon arrived and took the animals safely back home.

Cows standing in a resident's front garden

Friendly squatters

This was a reminder to me of our dependence on those who produce food for us to eat. I live in a village, but my lifestyle is urban. I can look out of my window and see the fields, but I know little of the hard work that goes into our food production. It is easy to forget the many people who are involved in the growing, preparation, transporting and selling of our food.

We ignore these essential links at our peril. I was glad to be able to visit recently one of the farms in our borough and to learn something of the work, skill and business acumen that is required for these essential businesses to survive – and us as well! I met some of the ‘residents’ and I am very grateful to the farmers who took the time and trouble to show me round and to explain some of the issues that they face.

Sheep in a farm pen

Farm residents

Completely different was an invitation to be present at the start of the seventh stage of the Tour of Britain cycle race. This year, the stage was entirely in our county, and it started in the centre of Tewkesbury and finished in Gloucester Docks after a 100 mile tour round the county.

It was a very warm day and a big crowd assembled to enjoy the entertainment and watch the competitors start off. I have never been much of a sportsman, although I used to enjoy cycling as a means of seeing the countryside, but it was a great pleasure to be involved with this major national event which has helped to showcase Tewkesbury Borough. And I pause to note how much careful work and preparation was required to make the event go so smoothly, and also in the far less glamorous effort to clear up afterwards.

The Mayor of Tewkesbury Borough with his granddaughter

With the Mayoress-for-the-day, granddaughter Juliette

At a more everyday level, opportunities for cycling across the area – as a means of transport – are important. I am really pleased that the Gloucester-to-Cheltenham cycleway is being progressed, and even more pleased that it is being used. There are other cycleways in Bishops Cleeve and elsewhere.

For the more energetic, cycling can be an opportunity to show skill and strength, and for the young and brave (or even the not so young) there are several BMX tracks in the borough. The one in Churchdown has recently been completely rebuilt. There is a celebratory event planned at the track, and I am wondering if I have the courage to oil my bicycle, pump up the tyres and give it a go…

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