7 September 2013

Merrie England - Part Four

We had a Summer!

Outside there is a thick mist.  Dawn comes later.  There is a chilly dew on the grass and uniform spots of condensation on the garden table.  

It is September.  The school bells are ringing; the holidays are over.  Apples begin to ripen and fall; the swallows are on the lines.

But, we had a summer!  We don't need details of hottest and driest and wettest and coldest.  We don't need graphs of sunshine hours - we know we had some lovely days, and we could sit outside and with ice creams and drinks. 

We even took unprotected dips in the sea. Not a wet suit in sight!

And exposed ourselves to the healing (?) rays of the sun.

And threw each other into the cool water to chill!

Some relaxed over a quiet drink in a shaded pub:

While others took their drinks en plein air....

For some it is hard to beat a cup of tea....

But there were glasses for all.

Some in quiet pubs, 

And some in the peace of home.....

Sunny days make all the difference.  Flowers look their best with bright light, whether trained and cultivated:

Or in profusion, either managed:

Or perhaps not necessarily part of the plan:

Natural quiescence, set to please the eye:

Or there to provide the scent of a summer day:

The natural world and man's hand in taming it come together even in the heart of cities, as this heron in the centre of London knows very well:

And in our gardens, Great Tits and Spotted Woodpeckers take advantage of the food on offer to feed their growing families:

While the cat looks the other way:

For some, pleasure lies in a day out, exploring the artistic and architectural heritage that few other countries can match:

Little Moreton Hall

The Long Gallery 

For others it was a day on the common, admiring classic cars and swapping stories of wonderful drives:

Finishing off perhaps with a gathering of the clan:

Cities are quieter, with the clamour and chaos of the business year soothed a little by the holiday period.  People seem more relaxed,

And the parks provide entertainment in various ways:

Peter Pan
For children and for those who have not yet forgotten to simple pleasures of childhood:

Outside the Serpentine Gallery

While the rivers always provide variety of scenery and a chance to sit and watch the world flow by:

And canals also have their attractions in providing an alternative landscape and an easy path on which to walk, cycle or run.

Perhaps the strongest tradition of holidaymaking in England is a trip to the seaside.  On a warm summer's day it has always provided a complete change of environment, of air and light, for the city dweller (whose working life may be in an office block or factory building) and for their children.  And the attractions of different foods,

And different smells, sensations and sights, whether on the shore,

Or out to sea,

All spin round in a joyous confusion of sound and taste and light.

For me, summer days prolong the chances to be outside in the countryside, walking across our gentle landscapes:

Enjoying the colourful details that lie in every field:

And the patterns of the natural world that surround us:

Coming through the Rye

Delighting in the the play of light on water, on the shades of green:

And in the subtle plays of colour, even if they carry a premonition of autumn in them!

I glory in the phases of the sun:

Even if I may play a little with the tones:

I love English woodlands, the ancient trees, and the whiff of history that attends the corner of the eye:

Even if it is only a fleeting moment of dreams:

On the set of Walt Disney's "Cinderella" in Windsor Great Park

Then, at the end of the day, it is good to take some refreshment, in a public house, where strangers may smile at one another:

And sit outside in the evening light, discussing the weather:

We have been blessed this year. There is a Merrie England hidden under all our woes. We cannot ignore the serious side, but it does no harm to celebrate the good!

Here's to the future!