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Bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers, and when it wasn’t raining a diamond dust took over which veiled and yet magnified all things. Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie
The prospect Smiler was a manic farmer. Few men I think can have been as unfortunate as he; for on the one hand he was a melancholic with a loathing for mankind, on the other, some paralysis had twisted his mouth into a permanent and radiant smile. So everyone he met, being warmed by his smile, would shout him a happy greeting. And beaming upon them with his sunny face he would curse them all to hell. ibid.
She leaned out of the window slow and sleepy, and the light came through her nightdress like sand through a sieve. ibid.
She was too honest, too natural for this frightened man; too remote from his tidy laws. She was, after all, a country girl; disordered, hysterical, loving. She was muddled and mischievous as a chimney-jackdaw, she made her nest of rags and jewels, was happy in the sunlight, squawked loudly at danger, pried and was insatiably curious, forgot when to eat or ate all day, and sang when sunsets were red. ibid.
‘Me dad planted that tree,’ she said absently, pointing out through the old cracked window.
The great beech filled at least half the sky and shook shadows all over the house.
Its roots clutched the slope like a giant hand, holding the hill in place. Its trunk writhed with power, threw off veils of green dust, rose towering into the air, branched into a thousand shaded alleys, became a city for owls and squirrels. I had thought such trees to be as old as the Earth, I never dreamed that a man could make them. Yet it was Granny Trill’s dad who had planted this tree, had thrust in the seed with his finger. How old must he have been to leave such a mark? Think of Granny’s age, and add his on top, and you were back at the beginning of the world. ibid.
The chatter of haymakers drifted on waves of air from the fields humming with the blundering bees and flickering with the scarlet butterflies. Cider with Rosie ***** 2015 starring Samantha Mortin & Archie Cox & Ruby Ashbourne Serkis & Emma Curtis & Jessica Hynes & June Whitfield & Annette Crosbie & Timothy Spall & Billy Howle & Georgie Smith et al, director Philippa Lowthorpe, BBC 2015
All sights twice brilliant and smells twice sharp. All games twice as long. It seemed that here no disaster could happen, that no disaster could touch us. ibid.
This man did not look like a soldier, he was not brassoed, leather-belted and wax-whiskered like my father. ibid.
The womeny warmth of my family. ibid.
We were green and innocent, not fully understanding what we did, imitating their rituals and roles were played out before us. ibid.
Have you got any wine-gums? I’ll show you if you want. ibid.
That summer mysterious senses clicked into play. Our thighs seemed to burn like dry grass. Emotion swung wildly, and our bodies seemed tilted out of all recognition. ibid.
Laurie: How does it taste?
Rosie: Like fire. ibid.
Rosie having baptised me with her ciderous kisses married a soldier and I lost her for ever. ibid.
I left behind the village life that was soon to break, dissolved and scatter. The valley would change for ever. And so would I. ibid.
O bring me your river,
your moss-green bridges,
the bank of your breasts
with their hill-cold springs. Laurie Lee, River
Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.
Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass;
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.
Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die. Thomas Hardy, In Time of ‘The Breaking of Nations’ 1915, from Moments of Vision 1917
Clack, clack, clack, went the mill-wheel as I came,
And she was on the bridge with the thin hand-rail.
And the miller at the door, and the ducks at mill-tail,
I came again years after, and all there seems the same ... Thomas Hardy, The Second Visit
The community of fowls to which Tess had been appointed as supervisor, purveyor, nurse, surgeon, and friend, made its headquarters in an old thatched cottage standing in an enclosure that had once been a garden, but was now a trampled and sanded square. The house was overrun with ivy, its chimney being enlarged by the boughs of the parasite to the aspect of a ruined tower. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Amid the oozing fatness and warm ferments of the Var Vale, at a season when the rush of juices could almost be heard below the hiss of fertilization, it was impossible that the most fanciful love should not grow passionate. The ready bosoms existing there were impregnated by their surroundings. ibid.
Immediately he began to descend from the upland to the fat alluvial soil below, the atmosphere grew heavier; the languid perfume of the summer fruits, the mists, the hay, the flowers, formed therein a vast pool of odour which at this hour seemed to make the animals, the very bees and butterflies, drowsy. ibid.
A few miles south of Soledad, the Salinas River drops in close to the hill-side bank and runs deep and green. The water is warm too, for it has slipped twinkling over the yellow sands in the sunlight becore reaching the narrow pool. On one side of the river the golden foothill slopes curve up to the strong and rocky Gabilan mountains, but on the valley side the water is lined with trees – willows fresh and green with every spring, carrying in their lower leaf junctures the debris of the winter’s flooding; and sycamores with mottled, white, recumbent limbs and branches that arch over the pool. On the sandy bank under the trees the leaves lie deep and so crisp that a lizard makes a great skittering if he runs among them. Rabbits come out of the brush to sit on the sand in the evening, and the damp flats are covered with the night tracks of ’coons, and with the spread pads of dogs from the ranches, and with the split-wedge tracks of deer that come to drink in the dark. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
This modest quiet backwater tucked in just behind his father’s mill inspired one of the most popular and iconic pictures in all of English painting: The Hay Wain. Great Artists with Tim Marlow: John Constable, Channel 5 2005
The appeal of the wild for me is its unpredictability. You have to develop an awareness, react fast, be resourceful and come up with a plan and act on it. Bear Grylls
Without any doubt the great works of Constable were done at the point when his desire to be a ‘natural’ painter and his need to express his restless, passionate character overlap. Through his violence of feeling, concealed under a conventional exterior, he was able to revolutionise our own feelings about our surroundings. The conviction that open spaces and areas of rural scenery must be saved for the refreshment of our spirits owes more to Constable than to any other artist. While Turner, with greater gifts, was transforming the ‘beauty spots’ of Europe, Constable was teaching us all to realise that our own countryside could be taken exactly as it is, and yet become more precious to us. Kenneth Clark, The Romantic Rebellion
The beautiful country that surrounds us – the rugged coastline, the rolling green hills, the craggy mountains – were formed millions of years ago when Britain was a very different place. Giant geological forces have shaped the land we know today. Tony Robinson, Birth of Britain: Volcanoes, National Geographic 2010
For thousands of years the mountains, lakes and forests of Britain have been just geography. But in the late 1700s they became something much more – the face of our nation. The countryside became our country. Simon Schama, A History of Britain: Forces of Nature, BBC 2000
Country folks for country ways. Al Murray: The Pub Landlord: My Gaff, My Rules, London’s Playhouse Theatre
Anybody can be good in the country. Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891