I’ve recently joined a few blogger groups on social media, ones that are full of outdoorsy types rather than fashionistas and make up artists. One of the threads the other day caught my eye. It was about going walking in the countryside when you’ve got bovinophobia- a(n irrational) fear of cows. Initially I thought it […]
Here is my latest Countryman column. It is sometimes hard to separate our love of all things countryside from our propensity for nostalgia. Perhaps this is because while most of us now live in towns and cities, we came from the countryside, however many generations back. Or perhaps it is because it is pleasanter to […]
I love the days of bright sun and hard frost, the intense colour of the oak trees, still holding their orange leaves.
Autumn has arrived in the valley. Despite record high temperatures this week, the season can no longer be denied. Blackberries are ripening exponentially, day after day, spiders’ webs glisten with dew at dawn, and there has been a subtle shift in the spectrum, toward a clarity, a purity of tone which does not exist in summer. The light is as warm as honey on the skin, lucid and amber-tinted, as though the glow of the coming harvest moon has somehow leached into the daylight.
‘Edward was so popular with the whole Battalion, and you have the consolation of knowing that the dear child – for he looked so young – met his death with the greatest courage and bravery. The whole life out there was hateful to him, but he never murmured, and has been, and always will be, an example to us all by his absolute purity of word and deed.’
With so many words, in all media, dedicated to the repercussions of the UK referendum, I have been reluctant to express an opinion here. But on this morning, the centenary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, with the blackbird, wren and chaffinch singing in the garden and highly-appropriate skylarks soaring in music overhead, I am irresistibly drawn to one thought.
Robert Browning may have craved his homeland in April (and who would not?), but is there any month more urgently, lasciviously, resplendently English than May? The very word drips with subtext; with sappy, fleshy undercurrents of light, warmth and fecundity.
Meat used to be a matter of confidence and pride. Every market town held its own local fat stock show and sale in the weeks before Christmas, where farmers would compete to present the best-finished beef animal and butchers would vie to outbid each other to secure the champion beast and the honour of offering its meat to their customers, the cuts laid out in their shop window alongside its rosette and the winning farmer’s name.
Sadly, a casualty of Storm Katie was the horse chestnut tree which stood at the foot of Dux Hill. It was such a handsome tree, its sticky buds just breaking into bright green soft leaf, full of the promise of the white flower heads, called ‘candles,’ to come.