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When I left the City some twenty years ago it was with huge feelings of relief. To escape and live in the Countryside was for me that dream come true. For various reasons I can count the times on one hand that I have been back to visit. Nothing the City had to offer could ever really tempt be back - not even for the shortest stay.

A few weeks ago I really had no choice as my Mum was taken ill. I should have gone to see her last year but foot and mouth rather got in the way of things. This time there was no excuse.

To cut a very long story short I was shocked to see just what had happened to the city of my birth in the years since I last visited. Coming into any city via train you always get to see the 'real' heart of a city. To say it was depressing is a understatement. Squalor and deprivation - a million miles removed from the lovely gentle home I had left some hours before. I could not believe this was how people lived. It was like (or what I imagined) a Third World Country) looked like. So what in heavens name must they really be like - because no way can this Country be describe as that!

I had taken a copy of Cumbria's Story. I thought they might like to read what had been happening to us all throughout last year. Naive. I certainly was - on many things.

I think it would be right to say that most of us on this group manage to maintain a certain level of good living. We perhaps live in areas were we do not see what the real day to day existence entails. I include myself in this description when I say 'out of touch with reality'. Reality for a majority of this Country is living hand to mouth on a day to day basis. They cannot afford to be bothered where their food comes from - they buy what they can afford. United Kingdom produced or from Asia I doubt they even care let alone look at the labelling. Many of these people did at one time have good paid jobs - not anymore.

My sister in law is a physiotherapist. She told me they are using equipment that is ancient and do not have either the staff or the facilities. My friends husband worked in a bank until six month ago. He went to University for three years to get a well paid 'career' or so he thought. The banked closed down and at 45 he lost his job. The bank has become a pizza restaurant. He applied for a job there but was told he was not the 'age' they were looking for. My Mum has been waiting six months to see a 'specialist'. My family live in a 'nice' area, less then two miles away the housing which was once equally nice is deprived and looks like a war zone. It is home to drug addicts and whatever else! The remaining decent people cannot sell their homes for a realistic price so they are forced to stay living in this hell. I could go on and on...

This is real life in the cities up and down this country of ours.

Is it any wonder they do not have either the time or the inclination to get involved in what is happening in the rural areas? Places that many of them probably do not even know exist let alone visit.

This country of ours is in a mess and from where I stand there is no quick fix. There is no guarantee of a job, or a way of living anymore.

And why should we think we have any more right to a 'future' then the people in the Cities - it takes all sorts to make a viable World economy. If we cannot keep apace with World changes we will go under and there is no two ways about it. It might not be a level playing field anymore but that is life. My neighbours earn more then us and so on - not much we can do about it is there.

My family were sorry that so many animals suffered - but as to whys of it all they really did not know - or even perhaps care. There is not a lot of support or sympathy for farmers in the City. Like they so rightly say people here lose their jobs - and end up on the scrap heap.

Answers - I don't imagine there are any. Just do not expect the people in the cities to suddenly all jump up and start shouting to save the 'British Countryside and farmers - because it is not going to happen. They have more then enough to contend with as it is. If you doubt what I write go and pay a visit and see how people live and what they have to contend with. It makes me glad I can escape back here - even after everything that happened it is still a million times preferable to many of the things I saw. I would not last in the City of today.

So long as we can keep the Animal Health Bill redundant we have a choice. We can stand 'up' for our animals and for what we believe in - or we can do what many did and give them up. That choice is ours. I still do not see many farmers opposing the Bill though. The sheep forums I belong to most seem to be carrying on as before and burying their heads in the sand. Any newcomer to these groups could be forgiven for asking 'foot and mouth' what was that? People who post about the 'real world' are shot down in flames. Pet people are the ruination of the farming community! Sadly - nothing changes does it?

Coleen

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