Country mouse on an artistic weekend

Charlie is an artist. He can see beauty where I can’t in the textures and colours of a smouldering muck heap or the shapes and contours of broken trees in a smelly pond, but, as his dad, there is nothing better than spending time searching with him for a subject to paint. On Sunday, he wanted a bare, ploughed field with a church spire behind it. When I pointed out that ploughed fields are in short supply at this time of year, he gave me a withering look and questioned the whole farming process.

We set out driving lazily around the lanes of the Meon Valley, shuddering to a halt every time he yelled stop, so that he could sniff the air and assess the vista. ‘Too green’ was my cue to drive on past the field of winter barley. In one sleepy lane, we found a dozen squashed frogs embedded in the tarmac, killed as they migrated back to the pond of their birth. ‘But,’ said Charlie firmly, ‘that’s not what we’ve come to find.’

Eventually, we did Privett church with its spire soaring above a furrowed field. The farmer who owns the land should be ashamed of his crop, but for the artist, it was a delight.