Here comes summer
What are you doing this June? Up and down the country, the dazzling array of activities that constitutes the British summer is getting into full swing. Organisations large and small will be mounting fêtes and scarecrow festivals, steam rallies and rowing regattas. a little thing like a General Election is as nothing to the real business of life—something accomplished with the help of strawberries, a cooling drink, perhaps a fishing rod, very likely a deckchair or hammock.
the envious of other lands may observe that, like our food, the weather is unpredictable; it may not always be of the best. although this magazine is staunch in its defence of British cuisine, now improved to the point of being occasionally sublime, we can’t deny the variability of the climate —but that’s the point. Why else did Constable paint clouds? Because he knew he had to make the most of his time out of doors, before it rained.
So it is with the selfless committees that run summer events. No other country packs these months with so much choice. Festivals abound. the strains of music never stop. Glastonbury and Reading have been joined by numerous other fixtures in the grounds of country houses, such as Eastnor Castle’s Big Chill, first staged in 2002 and getting bigger every year.
Country-house opera is one of the phenomena of the age. the big three of Glyndebourne, Garsington and Grange Park have been joined by enterprising smaller houses, such as Longborough Festival in the Cotswolds, whose ambitious productions (much Wagner) receive rave reviews.
Literary festivals are too numerous to list: connoisseurs particularly enjoy Wigtown, in remote and beautiful Dumfries and Galloway. Ledbury in herefordshire has a festival dedicated to poetry. Culture? the countryside is awash with it.
as for sport, we hardly know where to begin. Whatever happens in the upper echelons of cricket, the game is still played as it should be on village grounds. Wimbledon fortnight is celebrated, by many people, in front of the television, but scores of local tournaments will get amateur players off their sofas. So it is with sailing, rowing, polo—and that’s before we’ve even mentioned the most popular exercise of all: walking.
So much exists to tempt the walker: coast-to-coast trails, the prospect of a decent pint (beer being so much more dependable than it used to be) in a country pub. Green hillsides, glorious gardens—those are other benefits of rain; many country people wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of it this year. If there’s a downpour, take shelter in a country house.
Does anywhere else on the planet do summer so well as Britain? Don’t ask us— we’re biased. But, honestly, we think not.
‘No other country packs the summer months with so much choice