It is mid-May and although the sun is refusing to acknowledge this, other elements of nature and man are playing along. On today’s bike ride, the last big training ride before the London to Paris charity venture, I catalogued these seven signs of May in the Cotswolds:
1. Horse chestnut petals floating in the birdbath.
2. French’s yellow mustard smears of rapeseed across the hillside landscape.
3. Cow parsley lining the lanes, innocuous but for the carpet of nettles at its base.
4. A gypsy encampment along a grassy verge, complete with painted wagon, solar panels, tinny sounding radio at full blast, lethargic dog, and bell-bottomed Cob horses grazing in a makeshift, roped off pasture.
5. Kamikaze insects, chartreuse pellets with translucent wings, turning my arms and legs into a human bug screen.
6. The arrival of the Italian tourists at Daylesford, wearing white jeans and “H” buckle Hermès belts and highlighted tips in their hair, and making the lunchtime viewing at the café as spectacular as the surrounding countryside — from which the Italians will stay safely ensconced in this pristine, retail-enabled, meta-Cotswolds. I can hardly blame them.
7. Swags of wisteria draped across stone cottages like bunting for a fête. It’s so picturesque I feel suspicious, like my senses have duped me into admiring a Thomas Kingkade painting.