Haymaking is believed to be one of mankind’s greatest inventions, on a par with the wheel for creating progress and changing Homo sapiens’ outlook on the world. Hay allowed armies to wage war with their cavalry where and when they previously couldn’t.

Now, up and down the country, haymaking is in full swing and the sweet smell of the drying grass wafts deliciously across the land as the farmer turns the crop each afternoon. Roses, lavender and jasmine add richer scents around our house. It’s heaven, and a good time to be shamelessly idle and watch the swallows chase each other and the bees do their earnest work. That all the migrant birds have arrived and none have yet left tells us Nature agrees that this is the best time to be in the British countryside.

It was, therefore, going to take something rather special to tempt me up to London last Sunday, but Masterpiece, the wonderful art and antiques fair on the site of the Chelsea Flower Show was so good that I went back for a second look over the weekend. With its breathtaking treasures, it’s a must, even for the most ardent countryman. Each stall is as enthralling as a mini museum and all the better for the variety of objects, from Spitfires to Monets.

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