No time to waste.
It’s high summer. Clouds of creamy elderflowers drape the hedgerows beside the delicate wild roses, ox-eye daisies nod at the passing motorist, pigeons coo.
The countryside has a calmness about it and the long days allow for a sense of timelessness. It’s a time to watch the clouds pass across the sky, but, for most of us, there is no time. Instead, a plethora of signs point us to garden openings, village fêtes, country-house operas, school open days and more. With the sun at its highest in the summer sky, it’s also hay-making time. Although this ancient farming skill isn’t as important as it was, it’s still a great rural tradition.
Perhaps at no other time of year is the weather forecast so closely watched, as the gamble to cut the grass requires three consecutive days of dry weather to bake the grass to make the crop. Once made, there is a rush to move the bales to the barn before the weather turns.
At the top of Old Winchester Hill, above the ancient yew woods, is a 3,300-year-old Iron Age fort. From the top of it, you can see for miles in all directions. Small hedge-bound fields stretch out, with farmsteads folded into the hills. It’s the most timeless place I know and a favourite to visit as a reminder that, sometimes, at this time of year, it’s also good to slow down.