Country diary: 'I’ve never needed a permit to go for a walk in England before'

Easton Hornstocks, Northamptonshire: A thousand years ago, mastiffs were allowed here if their front claws had been removed. Now it’s a national nature reserve, all dogs are banned

The dawn light astonishes but mostly it’s the smell: sharp, delicate, wild garlic, the last of the bluebells, dewy grass. Dappled light is spilled up the trees and on the ground, and swirls, as the leaves casting it sway, like reflections off water. Silver birch limbs, knotted with birch polypore fungus, lie pale on beds of fat-bladed grass. I find an ornate snail on one. Falling leaf litter. Birdsong. This place quietly seethes with life.

I’ve never needed a permit to go for a walk in England before. Easton Hornstocks is an old wood of lime and ash trees close to my home. It’s a national nature reserve, and I had to ask for access. It was easy. Free. I had to carry the permit. No bikes; fine, I don’t own one. No dogs; ditto. But I didn’t know how I felt about the idea. Rankled by the restriction? Or thankful for its sense of privilege?

Easton is a village, but Hornstocks is an unfamiliar word, certainly for a wood. There are other odd suffixes to woodland reserves in these parts: Everden Stubbs, Castor Hanglands, Bedford Purlieus. Archaic generics that had fallen obscure in the way that chase or heath hadn’t, maybe. One, purlieu, is a relic of the Forest Law, meaning an agricultural area on the edge of the trees.

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Nobody’s fault: why does the state trap people in unhappy marriages? | Jo Edwards

Introducing a no-fault system for divorce would free partners from apportioning blame for the breakdown of their marriage

This week has seen the unedifying spectacle of a wife who wishes to exit her marriage, Tini Owens, taking her fight to be able to do so to the highest court in the land. Many have questioned why the state should have any say in such personal affairs. In England and Wales, there were about 107,000 divorces in 2016. The legal test for whether someone is entitled to a decree of divorce is that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. That must be established by reference to one of five grounds, two of which – adultery and unreasonable behaviour – are fault-based. About 60% of divorces are based on one of those grounds.

There is a groundswell of opinion that it is time the law changed so that fault-based divorce need not be the norm. Lady Justice Hale (who presided over the Owens hearing this week), the outgoing president of the high court’s family division, Sir James Munby, and Sir Paul Coleridge of the Marriage Foundation are among high-profile supporters of change. The family law organisation Resolution, of which I am a past chair, has campaigned on the issue for years. The fact that Tini Owens has not (so far) been able to prove that her husband’s behaviour has been so bad as to meet the legal test and remains locked in an unhappy marriage, adds weight to these views.

Related: Nobody’s fault but the law: Tini Owens boosts case to legalise no-fault divorce

Related: Divorce blame game leads to futile court battles, new study finds

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Guernsey parliament votes against assisted dying

Proposal sought to restrict euthanasia to people with less than six months to live and full mental capacity

An attempt to legalise assisted dying in Guernsey has been defeated in the island’s parliament after a three-day debate.

Members of the legislature voted against a requete – similar to a private member’s bill – proposed by Guernsey’s chief minister, Gavin St Pier. A series of votes on different clauses were lost decisively.

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Surgery left Anna White unable to move – now she can stand and talk

White sustained severe physical disabilities after an appendix operation, but has made a remarkable recovery

Anna White was 15 when medical negligence left her facing a lifetime stuck inside her body, unable to walk or talk, and communicating only by blinking at letters on a Perspex board.

White sustained a major brain injury in 2011 during what should have been routine appendix surgery at Wigan’s Royal Albert Edward infirmary. While her intellectual capacity was unimpaired by the injury, Anna was left with profound physical disabilities.

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Windrush victim's mother accuses UK government of racism

Sentina Bristol says her son died after struggle to prove his legal status to the Home Office

The mother of one of the victims of the Windrush scandal who died unexpectedly in March has accused the government of racism and said it still doesn’t “really care” about what happened.

Dexter Bristol, whose funeral was held at Honor Oak crematorium in south-east London on Thursday afternoon, died suddenly on 31 March following a 10-month battle to prove he was not an illegal immigrant.

Related: Mother of Windrush citizen blames passport problems for his death

Related: Race was big factor in deportation scandal, Windrush citizens say

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