This green and pleasant land

This land – the beautiful countryside, the bonkers humour, the sarcasm and satire, the quirky traditions, the diversity (of people, architecture, landscape, clothing), the road signs, the libraries, galleries and museums, red London buses, red post boxes, Yorkshire tea, a cream tea, real ale, music festivals, open-air theatre, the birdsong, the fresh air and freedom. I love Britain and its people who get on with life, who are resilient and resourceful, who don’t make a song and dance out of everything. If we’re heartbroken, we’re heartbroken quietly and mostly in private with a cup of tea. If we’re celebrating we have a cup of tea or we might push the boat out and pop a cork. (Tea suits most occasions.) If we see someone in need, we help. We have the stiff upper lip and we queue politely.

But these are difficult times. Austerity has led to some serious hardships for many people, we’ve been divided by Brexit and attacked by terrorists and now we’re having to vote for a group of politicians to deal with the mess. I, for one, am anxious and tired of it all. I know that the sun will still rise tomorrow and rain will fall and plants will grow, that the tide will continue to rise and fall, but it feels as though this country is at a major crossroads. I fervently hope for a change for the better, for the common good, but I suspect we’ll be stuck with the status quo.

A friend and I drove over to East Sussex yesterday to get away from it all. We drove cross-country, through the most glorious countryside – Kent at its most beautiful – down country lanes, through tunnels of overhanging trees, past picture-postcard cottages with roses around the door. So much green. Lush green as far as we could see. We were headed to Perch Hill, Sarah Raven’s garden, to a talk by the head gardener and a morning discussing propagation and planting. We wandered around the gardens, admired the layout and planting (noticing that there were weeds and untidy patches and liked the garden all the more for it), and got to take some cuttings of dahlias and salvias to take home with us. It’s a lovely place with a generous feel to it – do go if you get the chance. Afterwards, we drove to Bateman’s, once the home of Rudyard Kipling, to soak up more green and beauty. The whole day was a wonderful tonic and antidote to the current affairs.

As I write, the exit polls have been announced and my husband and eldest are glued to the tv. They’re planning to stay up to see the results roll in during the small hours; I’ve told them not to wake me up unless there’s a shock result. Goodnight – see you on the other side!