April in the Cotswolds

As the nights begin to lengthen and the darkness of a Northern hemisphere winter starts to fade into the distance, the Cotswolds is certainly one of the best places to be in the whole of our beautiful country.

The month of April brings with it renewal in all sorts of ways. As the churches celebrate Easter, houses across the region are ‘Spring Cleaning’, an old tradition where the cobwebs and dust of interior living are swept away, windows are opened to the fresh Spring air and sulky children are gently encouraged to wield mops and dusters, in a family quest to resurrect their beautiful homes. The farms too are busy with spring lambs frolicking in the fields, milking cows finally released from their winter barns and the fresh shoots of the wheat-fields begin to climb with purpose towards the light.

This year, of course, things have been different. The pandemic has extended the people’s time in their homes and prevented the annual Spring Bank Holiday from taking its usual form. The English love their Bank Holidays and the ones in Spring mean Cotswold villages are full of life with picnics on gorgeous village greens, pints of ale at sleepy pub tables and a chance to visit one or two of the many beautiful stately homes and gardens in the region.

The frustration this year is palpable. Friends can’t visit and whilst the sun shines, we are restricted to one hour of exercise a day. Yet here, in the midst of a world-wide emergency, residents of this beautiful area can count their lucky stars. Not for us a small flat (or apartment), surrounded by city concrete or the noise, smells and traffic of the urban environment. Even if we live in a village or town, the stunning countryside is never more than a few minutes away, so whilst the city folk struggle to find fresh air and a place to find greenery, we happy few are surrounded by fields of Canola, flowering in vivid splashes of yellow amongst the spectacular range of greens that cover our gently rolling hills. We can walk through leafy glades as the ancient woodland bursts once more into life and the absence of traffic, due to the ‘lockdown’, brings with it the musical exhilaration of the birds singing as they eagerly seek out a mate.

The kitchens in our houses are also busy at this time of year, with the sunlight bringing out the baker in all of us. Top of the list, of course, are ‘Hot Cross Buns’ which no house can be without on Good Friday. These delicious spiced fruit buns are a long-standing tradition dating back definitely to 1733 and possibly to the city of St Albans in 1361. They mark the end of the austere season of ‘Lent’, with the spices representing the materials used to embalm Christ and the cross on top signifying the crucifixion. If you are lucky enough to be here in April, they are a treat that should not be missed under any circumstances.

There is, of course, one crucial aspect of the Cotswolds missing this year which is, of course, the tourists. Whilst, for some, the peace and quiet is a delight, there is a real sense that something important is missing. One could describe it as akin to owning a Matisse, a Van Gogh or a Michaelangelo which you keep tucked away and don’t allow anyone else to see. There is joy for you when you see it, but there is also joy in seeing the reaction of others to a thing of beauty. We draw energy and vibrancy from our visitors and love to see their joy as they experience our beautiful region. This too is something missing in these strange times so, as April of 2020 comes to a close, we have lots to be thankful for, but when the time is right, we look forward to opening our roads, our hotels, our gardens and the whole Cotswold region and welcoming once again visitors from around the world.

Here are a few clips we captured whilst on the farm and our local area during April. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD8-1sV2o5o

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