When I first saw southern England from the air, I was struck by how ‘pretty’ it all looked – a charming, higgledy-piggledy, irregular patchwork of myriad shades of green. I thought to myself, “Yes, you were right, William Blake – this truly is a ‘green and pleasant land’. “ I was just getting used to England’s more subtle colours – different from New York’s brashness – when April arrived. Before my very eyes, the fields began to sprout little tufts of yellow that, over the weeks, spread out like a paint spill, growing in intensity so that they almost vibrated with colour. My gentle English countryside had completely dazzled me with its WOW factor!
‘Is it mustard?’ I asked Dave – which was the only thing I could think of that could be that colour. ‘No, it’s rape.’ ‘I beg your pardon?’ I spluttered, thinking he was being rude. Then he told me about rapeseed oil. I had no idea that it was so good for you – with healthful Omega 3 fatty acids plus vitamin E. I felt sad when the flower heads started to fizzle out – like champagne going flat – and looked forward to the return of the rape next spring.
Then May arrived and England surprised me yet again with stunning colour. This time it was bluebells. Walking through local woodlands was like wading through a sea of intense blue, and I revelled in it. My camera could not satisfactorily capture the beauty around me: the trees just coming into delicate leaf complemented by the buoyant bluebells beneath. Dave explained the difference between the true English bluebell versus the interloping Spanish variety, and the threat that the latter poses. It was all I could do to resist the urge to grab my trowel and dig up all the foreigners!
Published in the Spring edition of Country File magazine