Have just returned from another of our coach tours, this time to the West Country. On the whole, Cornwall seems well stocked, probably overstocked with sheep.

However, on our cross country route from Bude to Tiverton via Holsworthy and Great Torrington (no we weren't lost - just heading for the RHS Rosemoor Gardens) there was a noticiable paucity of livestock - both sheep and cattle - in the meadows.

The fields were lush and green, primroses bedecked the banks, and all the hedges were neatly trimmed.

It was not until I pointed out this absence of livestock that my passengers noticed. Then I could hear comments like "look all these fields are empty". This is the problem we have to get through to the public. They think it's all over and done with and back to normal. They notice what's there, not what's not. Later several people commented on the number of farms up for sale, and asked why now it's "back to normal" farmers haven't restocked. Then out comes my soap box. Most ordinary people have every sympathy when things are explained to them, and they ask why they have never been told.

BTW, is anyone from that area? Was the place on the on the A388 just north of Holsworthy surrounded by bales of hay what I think it was? If so it would account for the cold shudder than ran through me as we passed by.