I know this is a little late as the poem is about Springtime in England but there again our seasons are all a bit behind.
Whilst visiting Hampton Court Castle Gardens near Hereford back in June my friend Anne and I were treated to a river walk around the stately home with its atmospheric Victorian greenhouses.
It was graced by Maytrees in full fluttery white bloom and the overgrown pathways were choc full of tall cow parsley also known as Queen Anne’s Lace.
The weather that day was warm and sunny and bees and butterflies were busy a bout their work.
It was a perfect English day out. We had afternoon tea and cake in the orangery and photographed a huge cypress/cedar with a goblin door in its wide trunk.
As we are now in a heatwave all over the UK this warm weather has prompted me to remember that lovely day out.
This well-loved poem evokes the same feeling…
Home-thoughts, from Abroad by Robert Browning
OH, to be in England
Now that April ‘s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossom’d pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops—at the bent spray’s edge—
That ‘s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children’s dower
—Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!
As we left and passed through the giftshop with its gorgeous local pottery and cards, handbags, soaps and sweets etc I spotted a book entitled “Champagne to Shambles”.
It was a book all about the decline of the family that owned the house. A rich historical account of the major social changes that affected every landed gentry member in the UK. I bought it and am enjoying learning about “how the other half lived” as it is superbly written by Catherine Beale – here is a link to her book – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Champagne-Shambles-Arkwrights-Downfall-Aristocracy/dp/0750943920
On the drive home we enjoyed the Herefordshire countryside with its lush fields of vivid yellow rapeseed and acres upon acres of the famous apple orchards. I really felt as if we had been immersed in the very heart of England where – being so rural – many many old customs, and ways of farming still have a tenacious hold…