This genteel spa town just off the Cotswolds was originally popularised by the observation that pigeons appeared to thrive by pecking health-giving crystals from nearby rocks.
First, pigeons pecking crystal salt from rocks
Alerted doctors to a
Which soon enough began to welcome flocks
Of fashionable gentry from afar;
Inevitably famed, before too long
The fashionable world desired to stay,
So fashionable villas housed the throng
Of fashionable folk - much like
Then Culture came, and added to the gloss
A Festival of Arts - refined pursuits
Which lent civility to country
Like hunting, and ungrateful pigeon-shoots;
The social climax finds the town full up
With Paddies, for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The longer hours
of day and warmer sun
Combine with Nature to invoke a scene
Of childrens' games upon the village green,
Of Easter Eggs, the smell of Hot Cross Bun,
Which show the yearly cycle
has begun -
The annual resurrection which can mean
An active time for every creed between
That of the avid gardener, and
But also at this time of surging hope
Life's drama finds a more romantic plot;
The nation's youth with Cupid now engage
(Provided only they can find the scope)
And in the Spring, the young lads turn to what
The lasses have been planning for an age.
At last! The sky's a scintillating blue!
The Atco and the Mountfield leap to action!
And we can feel the utter
Of pointing out those idle neighbours who
Have bedding plants which lag a week or two
Behind ours; then, to suffer
Of learning THEIRS were seeded. Stupefaction! -
We BOUGHT ours. Well, why not? The same to you!
But soon forgotten is such friendly hassle,
As, feelings soothed, half-naked on the turf,
We laze among the green stripes, newly mown,
Protected by the sun-shade's
And close our eyes - and dream of distant surf
On sunlit tropic islands of our own.
PS. IT's not always QUITE like this
This is a June event _ I have put it up once before as an example of a sonnet, but I'm including
it in this to keep the sequence complete. AND it seemps somehow appropriate in the current Worls Cup upheaval!
Chipping Campden is another ancient Cotswold Wool Town, and amongst its hearty country traditions is the Dover's Hill Games - a sort of local olympiad featuring such traditional sports as Shin-kicking.
Let other people range abroad and seek
A world-wide stage to try and
make their names;
Let Hellenes hold their Pan-Hellenic Games
And let the world enthuse as Greek meets Greek -
We have no wish to occupy a peak
On Mount Olympus to observe the shames
Of foreign failures, or the counter-claims
Which say the victor was a drug-raised freak.
Away with them! Good Cotswold folk can go
To Chipping Campden's Games on Dover's Hill,
And care about who loses and who wins -
It's better far to settle matters so.
And if you really wish your neighbour ill -
No problem: go and kick his bloody shins.
WELL, at least we are getting some decent Summer this year, despite the World Cup and the Cricket. We could always do the garden, or go on holiday, couldn't we??
Bath! Everyone's heard of Bath - historic Spa, famous Georgian City familiar to Jane Austen, world-noted university and cultural centre - and magnet for Tourists
and their cars. All sorts of people have lived there - and still do.
High Summer; time of warmth and evening light
When garden plans, matured a month or so,
Are realised, and fork and
spade and hoe
Are wielded with an unaccustomed might -
And even seen at work through half the night -
To tend the new-dug bed,
or stem the flow
Of omnipresent weeds whose seeds might blow,
Recruiting troops for next year's annual fight.
But other folk, of less frenetic bent,
Enjoy this leisured time in blissful ease
And leave decisive action to the fools;
They know their palmy days are better spent
By doing just exactly as they please
In lazy languishings by limpid pools.
The Roman Aquae Sulis, spa fantastic,
Was lost amidst the Saxon aftermath;
But then the Abbey Church, at first
Arose, and signalled further fame for Bath.
The Georgians, finding mellow sandstone near,
Created once again a noble
Which housed the rich and famous every year
As coaches, fast from London, brought them down.
There's coaches now
from Beechen Hill to Charlecombe,
Engulfing all, from stockbrokers to
Since everyone has cars - but none can park 'em:
A labyrinth of stationary drivers.
And yet the homeless, those with no "Dunroamin",
Prefer Bath as a place to have no home in.
HOLIDAYS. Lovely, no worries. Or are there?
Hooray! The sky! The sparkling sea! The sands!
Enjoy the world and all it has to show!
The wind of change is blowing? Let it blow!
And may it waft us into unknown lands,
And weave us into all the other strands
Of human life of which we do not know.
The world's our oyster - hurry, let us go
To that horizon, as it yet
But - how to pay for all this heady thought?
The mortgage rate is painfully intact.
Reality suggests we can't afford
That Spanish timeshare flat we rashly bought.
And when we're home, we face the dreaded fact
Of life - the Schools Examination Board.
Cranham is just about as traditional a Cotswold village as it is possible to get. Judge
Cranham is a very traditional Cotswold Village, and is the scene of the elaborate Cranham Feast, a traditional annual celebration held each August.
High in the Cotswolds, where Frome River rises,
Where beech woods flourish,
grown since Saxon days,
There Cranham Village yearly organises
The Feast, which never ceases to amaze.
The Deer Roast, courtesy of Lord of Manor,
Traditional as honeysuckle
The Boundary Races, run by those who can; for
Those who can't, a Festival of Flowers.
A service in the Church, and
Up to the field and Knock-out Cricket Match
Where eager hands applaud while runs are made
And Hearties heckle those
who drop a catch.
The Country to the dogs? Not in the least!
The heart of England beats at Cranham Feast.