Sunday 13 September 2009

Heart of England

The weather has been so beautiful since we arrived, warm and sunny every day, that the English countryside I love so much has been looking its absolute best. The grass is green, the trees still in full leaf but the hedgerows gleaming with sloes and blackberries; the hayfields are golden, scattered with bales still to be collected. The sheep are plump and white, the Hereford cattle look incongruously macho in this cushiest of counties, and donkeys doze in the sun. The villages are neat and the towns are liberally decorated with colourful hanging baskets. It's the best of times.

But glorious though the scenery truly is, the real heart of England is its people, and nowhere more so than in the country.

The friends in this photo may now have more grey hair than the badger I spotted by the side of the A40 (dead, alas) but their vigour and enjoyment of life would put to shame many a teenager.

Jean is 75 and about to take up skiing again; Philip was up at 4.30 this morning to go cub-hunting; John is spending his retirement building stone walls and making furniture; Christine's garden could feed the five thousand.

And they're part of a real community, a web of relationships and friendships where it seems there's hardly more than two degrees of separation between anybody.

All this, and beauty too. I think they have a lovely life.


Cotswolds Wanderer said...

I think there's something in the water in some parts of the English countryside, especially in the Cotswolds...all the people I met there were so full of life that I was afraid they would burst. Really, it's a lovely place, and I'm not sure which is the best: the people or the beautiful scenery.

TravelSkite said...

Welcome, Cotswolds Wanderer!

I couldn't agree more. I think it may have something to do with their being so aware of living in such a beautiful place - who wouldn't be cheerful and positive with all that around them?


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