This green and pleasant land

This land – the beautiful countryside, the bonkers humour, the sarcasm and satire, the quirky traditions, the diversity (of people, architecture, landscape, clothing), the road signs, the libraries, galleries and museums, red London buses, red post boxes, Yorkshire tea, a cream tea, real ale, music festivals, open-air theatre, the birdsong, the fresh air and freedom. I love Britain and its people who get on with life, who are resilient and resourceful, who don’t make a song and dance out of everything. If we’re heartbroken, we’re heartbroken quietly and mostly in private with a cup of tea. If we’re celebrating we have a cup of tea or we might push the boat out and pop a cork. (Tea suits most occasions.) If we see someone in need, we help. We have the stiff upper lip and we queue politely.

But these are difficult times. Austerity has led to some serious hardships for many people, we’ve been divided by Brexit and attacked by terrorists and now we’re having to vote for a group of politicians to deal with the mess. I, for one, am anxious and tired of it all. I know that the sun will still rise tomorrow and rain will fall and plants will grow, that the tide will continue to rise and fall, but it feels as though this country is at a major crossroads. I fervently hope for a change for the better, for the common good, but I suspect we’ll be stuck with the status quo.

A friend and I drove over to East Sussex yesterday to get away from it all. We drove cross-country, through the most glorious countryside – Kent at its most beautiful – down country lanes, through tunnels of overhanging trees, past picture-postcard cottages with roses around the door. So much green. Lush green as far as we could see. We were headed to Perch Hill, Sarah Raven’s garden, to a talk by the head gardener and a morning discussing propagation and planting. We wandered around the gardens, admired the layout and planting (noticing that there were weeds and untidy patches and liked the garden all the more for it), and got to take some cuttings of dahlias and salvias to take home with us. It’s a lovely place with a generous feel to it – do go if you get the chance. Afterwards, we drove to Bateman’s, once the home of Rudyard Kipling, to soak up more green and beauty. The whole day was a wonderful tonic and antidote to the current affairs.

As I write, the exit polls have been announced and my husband and eldest are glued to the tv. They’re planning to stay up to see the results roll in during the small hours; I’ve told them not to wake me up unless there’s a shock result. Goodnight – see you on the other side!

 

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28 thoughts on “This green and pleasant land

  1. “If we’re heartbroken, we’re heartbroken quietly and mostly in private with a cup of tea. If we’re celebrating we have a cup of tea or we might push the boat out and pop a cork. (Tea suits most occasions.) If we see someone in need, we help. We have the stiff upper lip and we queue politely.”
    Yes
    That’s how I grew up in New Zealand and how I am today.
    I love that about Brits…
    Who can be insanely catty but with such a polite flair. It’s difficult to live in these gangster, murderous times.
    I think I’ll read, see and feel your blog as my antidote.
    Thank you

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  2. What a great post, and such beautiful photos. Perch Hill sounds fantastic. I absolutely love Sarah Raven’s ‘The Great Vegetable Plot’ book, that has brilliant pictures too, very inspirational. I agree with all you say about this country. Very well said. CJ xx

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  3. What a beautiful post and wise thoughts Sam. That countryside and garden is gorgeous…that little wagon, would you call it a caravan or a gypsy wagon? I love it and if I wasn’t on the other side of the world I would hunt it down! Take care x

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  4. Oh how wonderful Sam. I would love to do one of Sarah’s flower courses, although yesterday I was head down, bottom up in our church flower patch in the grounds of the village hall where we grow mostly interesting foliage and a few flowers for the church (amidst the weeds and scruffiness) and learning so much from the septuagenarian ladies. I am sounding like a Sarah Raven groupie I know, but her garden was my favourite at Chelsea too – this year I really must try to get to one of the Perch Hill open days. (I was up until 3.30am when Labour won Canterbury. It reminded me of 1997 when I was awake feeding my baby daughter in the witching hours and Portillo fell – though now I really enjoy his train programmes!)

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    1. Learning from older gardeners is one of the best ways to learn about gardening, I think. I am a bit of a SR groupie, too, as were all the women and one man at the talk! I like her generous, colourful approach. As for the election… Hope you’re well x

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  5. Lovely post, thank you Sam. I didn’t see this coming, and am both thrilled and at the same time worried about what on earth this all means for Brexit negotiations.
    I was in London earlier this week including walking through Borough and London Bridge. I found myself incredibly moved by exactly the things you describe – the place was busy and bustling in the sunshine, people going about their business as usual, but with an added layer of friendliness even more than I normally find.
    More interesting times to come, it seems.

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  6. I tend to put my attention into the land and wildlife when times are unsettling. It’s that sense of permanence it brings- very reassuring. I loved all your words and agreed with everything you said. Wonderful lush green photos too. Batemans, one of my favourite places and the Sarah raven do sounded excellent too. Chin up, lovely girl, this too shall pass xx

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  7. Your words and your photos are brightening up my day (it is rainy here in Glasgow). You have a magic way with words Sam, you really do. I almost think I should start drinking tea 🙂 Wishing you a lovely weekend. x

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  8. Yes, an excellent summing up of who and where we are, Sam – and so well written, thanks. Have been to Batemans and remember enjoying both house and garden – good to know there are weeds at Perch Hill!

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  9. Beautiful photos! There seems to be so much uncertainty and upheaval everywhere right now. And I think it’s magnified by the constant stream of news now available online. Having that lovely drive and garden visit are just the kinds of soul restoring things that are so important if we are to avoid being swallowed up by all the negativity.

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  10. You beautifully expressed the underlying anxiety so many of us feel these days, even when in the sanctuaries of nature and our gardens. I have always admired the stiff upper lip, get on with life attitude of your green and pleasant land. We Yanks tend to blubber on with emotion and drama, trailing chaos behind us. But perhaps our excesses this time, in our crazy, surreal election, acted as a jolt to England and France, for people to see just how far down the rabbit hole you can fall. I hope the pendulum is swinging back for you.

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    1. Thank you, Brenda. Let’s hope there’s a fair and decent outcome from all the political upheaval going on. (And I hope things settle down on your side of the pond, too.)

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  11. Your day out at Perch Hill sounds the perfect remedy Sam to all the sadness and apprehension we’re feeling. As for the election I surprised myself by being in bed before midnight on Thursday out of earshot of tv and reach of iPad. As a former politics student I used to stay up well into the early hours of election nights but not this time round!

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  12. Absolutely gorgeous photographs, I especially like the one with the Knifophia and CA Poppies along with purple Foxgloves. From the coverage I’ve read many feel the result was something of a shocker, but perhaps you do not feel the same. It appears the same people will be in charge, but their hold on power will be much more tenuous.

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