Four Seasons in a Day

Driving to the country I heard on Radio 4 that this is the earliest Easter for 100 years. The weather is appropriately confused, and on Good Friday we go through four seasons in a day, ala Hugh Grant strolling down Portobello Road in the film Notting Hill. On a morning walk we move from bright sunshine into a snowstorm in the space of a mile. It even looks like a Hollywood set: nothing sticks and the wind is blowing the flakes in spirals, an out of control snowblower with an unlimited supply of styrafoam. B. calls to excuse us from our scheduled Easter visit to his Derbyshire village if the weather is too bad to drive in. “You’ll have to try harder than a little snow if you’re looking to get rid of us,” I tell him.”Earthquake?” he ventures.”Expect us for opening time at the Rose and Crown,” I say before hanging up. We love B. and R., but we also love their pub. It’s in Boylestone but attracts a crowd from neighboring villages like Cubley and Somersal Herbert (I wish I lived in Somersal Herbert just so I had a reason to say it out loud). The mix is half farmers, half well-to-do semi-retired types, and 100% straight out of the book of English central casting including fumbling, charming aristocrats, gentleman farmers, and village idiots. All this makes for stimulating conversation. Last time I was there I got a recipe for damson gin (apparently good for cold days on the links), bought bacon from a local farmer, unlocked the secret for herding sheep on a steep hillside, and learned a new joke (although failed to master the Yorkshire accent required to tell it properly). In retrospect, it was our introduction to country life long before the Cotswolds.

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