The stretch of Cheshire arcing round the south of Manchester is pilloried by Jeremy Clarkson and widely known as ‘The Home Counties of the North’ due to its relative wealth and attractiveness to Premier League footballers. It’s true, there is a high preponderance of gold sandals in Wilmslow, to match the faux golden skin tones. But stereotypes hide more than they reveal and this is a beautiful part of the world; verdant; low but rolling; steep wooded river banks and great views up towards the Pennines and down across the Plain from places such as Alderley Edge, Shutlingsloe or further south, the Cloud. Knutsford is the epicentre; socio-demographic markers reveal all: a Booths Store, a Bentley dealership an outpost of Clive Christian kitchens. There’s also a lovely old restaurant call The Belle Epoque, mid way down the main street.
Last time I was there we parked up near the restaurant and as we did, there was an encroaching rumble and an accompanying whine of an aero engine decelerating. In it swept – just yards above the Epoque’s elaborate roofline. Flybe I noted, close enough to wave to the pilot. Turns out that Manchester’s newish runway is the culprit; at least that and the wind blowing in a certain direction. Knutsford property values don’t seem to have suffered too much and the well heeled gaggle of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers outside Loch Fyne didn’t seem bothered either, but it was shock all the same.
Just last week it struck me how so many things we do mimic nature. The road from the east into our village comes in over what will soon be a causeway between man made gravel extraction lakes. The developers stock promise: ‘new habitats will be created’, whilst failing to mention the old habitats that will be destroyed. And already the changes are happening: now the air above the road is like the sky above Knutsford, only with nature’s planes. Waterfowl, and Canada Geese in particular using the route as their best line of descent onto the lake. Noisy buggers they are, honking their air traffic control messages to one another, feathering their wing flaps just as our planes do. Bounced and bashed by turbulence on the way in, their low landings are equally bumpy, even onto water.