I have a bale of hay sitting just outside my office. It arrived two years ago as a prop for a photo shoot and stayed. I adore its sweet smell and pluck the odd straw to chew on in my office I like to think that it helps me concentrate. Certainly, it reminds me of the countryside, and that’s no bad thing when I’m trying to edit Country Life in a very modern office block in the middle of London.

A rather wonderful scarecrow stands on guard beside the bale. He needs to, as the price of hay is at an all-time high this year due to so much of the crop being ruined by the weather. If I were a commodity broker, I would have more than tripled my money in two years on that bale.

Our visitors from across the Atlantic-Country Life is owned by the mighty American corporation TimeWarner-are often taken to see my office with its grandfather clock, Lutyens chairs and three brass hand bells, which were once used to summon the art, picture or subbing department depending on which bell was rung. They invariably squeal in delight at all the quaintness, but it’s the simple bale of hay that somehow steals the show. Despite the mess, I think it’s here to stay.

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