After a direct flight to the UK from NZ, with a short stopover in Hong Kong, I was intrigued to see England in the Spring. After a trip over premium Economy, it was interesting to see the difference between Aiur NZ(first leg) and Cathay Pacific (Second leg). I must say that Air NZ came out clearly as the winner in this contest. Better seats, a proper leg rest, footrest and more space with better recline ability), allied with better food/drink and a semi-waiter-like service and better TV monitor. It was a real experience. Cathay in comparison was economy class with better seating (with more space and recline facility, but only a rudimentary footrest) and early boarding. One of them was totally worth the extra cost. All up it did mean that I arrived in better shape than I have after an economy direct flight, so I was ready to investigate the sights of an English countryside in Spring.
The first thing I noticed on the train trip up to Birmingham, was that the trees have leaves…! How astute of me! However that meant that I did not have the panoramic view of the countryside, that bare trees in Winter allowed.
However after conference I travelled down to stay close to Cambridge. Here I have been able to wander through woods, gardens and even a next-door garden centre, looking at the myriad of plants growing here in the Spring in England.
On a drive, the first thin I noticed was field upon field full of beautiful yellow flowers. I found out that these are Rapeseed flowers, from which we drive Rapeseed Oil. When you think about the name, you can quickly understand why it is not a very popular oil, though it is blended in a large majority of cooking oils. Apparently it is a very good cooking oil on its own, but not often sold as such, because of the associations of its name. Such a beautiful scene however.
After arrival at my”English home”, we went for a walk in the adjacent wood. The Buebells, I was told, were well past their best. However they were still quite breathtaking and I loved the dappled light coming through the Spring green leaves on the trees. This is a different England!
I can see the real difference between seasons, having been here so often in the grim darkness of Winter. I was here only three months ago, when there was no snow, but also, not much else apart from bare branches without even signs of buds or life. It is not so much that it is so incredibly beautiful( which it is…..it is the difference between the seasons, which we in New Zealand are not fortunate enough to experience. we have a sort of gradual merging of seasons. In the English Spring, there is a sense of regeneration – apparent also in the psyche of the English people – with the optimistic spirit of a new renaissance – despite election results not pleasing everybody!
I went through the Garden Centre and was interested to see how much emphasis there is on flowers and quick-growing plants rather than the more slow-growing shrubs. I imagine this is a result of the harsher winter here and the relatively short time for flowers and plants to flourish preoprly.
The other point to notice is the way that people fit so much colour and life into relatively small spaces. In New Zealand I appreciate we think our garden spaces are much smaller than in the past, but this is much more apparent in England.
I was fortunate to be taken to a beautiful traditional English garden with the grass, obviously well cared for and a true sense of an “Olde” English country garden (cue music here….”in an English country Gar—ar—den”!).
I was amazed to see some Camellias, coming well into blossom – or finishing flowering. In New Zealand these are seen as Autumn/Winter flowers, but here in England they obviously flower in Spring.
After a walk around the village here – including the ubiquitous cricket pitch and field – under mostly blue skies and a temperature in the late teens, I was still happy to return to my “English home” and well earned coffee – albeit English coffee…..
So my trip here has been great. I have loved seeing the transformation of the scenery. I am able to really understand and enjoy those immortal words of Robert Browning (with one important loss of a “t” in the last word, and apologies for being a month late – we are slower in New Zealand… 🙂