On May 6th , 2010, the people of Britain were able to vote for a change of government. Two days later, we are still unsure who will lead the next parliament. Voting results have given us the possibility of a Hung Parliament. There are fears of instability and indecision. There are also signs of hope. My own hope is that the best politicians of the "winning" coalition will stop their infighting and begin to talk to each other like intelligent adults. A hope that extreme policies will slide off into the margins while the real issues that need dealing with ( the economy and the environment in particular) can be confronted with care and wisdom.
I voted late on Thursday morning, in our nearest Polling Station. A grey, chilly morning. Cherry trees blossomed around the edge the village car park. I walked up the hill past cottages and gardens bursting with blossom and new leaf, to the Polling Station in the lane by the beech woods.
I was the only voter in the village hall. As I cast my vote, I said a silent "Thank you" to the women of the Suffrage Movement who had made this possible. To Millicent Fawcett, to Mrs Pankhurst and her daughters, to Emily Davison who gave her life to the cause of gaining suffrage for women in Britain, and to the unsung ordinary women of their generation who campaigned for the vote that we take for granted now. Women in Britain were unable to vote until 1918, when women over thirty years of age were granted the vote. It was not until 1928 that all women in Britain were granted the same voting rights as men.
In many parts of today`s world, people cannot vote without fear of persecution and violence. Placing my cross and posting my ballot paper in a quiet place, overseen by three friendly, unthreatening people, was a privilege indeed.
Afterwards, I walked through the woods on my way back to the car. Up on the mossy hedge banks, beech trees in new leaf filtered light through bright green.
The oaks are much later in leaf this year.
A pair of grey squirrels were digging for buried nuts among roots and mosses.
A beech between two pathways, where centuries of water and passing feet have eroded the tracks so that old trees grow on an island of tangled roots.
Soft, vivid green of new beech leaves against grey skies.
A rotting beech trunk, where woodpeckers and insects feed.
Two riders passed by with their horses. Out enjoying the spring woods in quiet companionship.
The track to the village green.
An old oak, its bud newly breaking, against the bright, flamboyant beeches.
A New Forest mare, heavily in-foal, grazes beside the road.
A young copper beech unfurling red leaves in the hedgerow.
Afterwards, in the early afternoon.......a visit to Christchurch .
Flower borders in the High Street shone out with vivid displays. Heavy flowers of these beautiful striped tulips are underplanted with red primulas.
My son took this photo . Here we are beside the Quay, feeding ducks, swans and pigeons with grain.
We had to be careful. This young swan became too interested in the camera!
On my way home again, I saw one of the earliest New Forest foals by the roadside with her mother and her family group.
She was too busy at the milk bar to have a better photograph than this.......
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