Country mouse on the rites of spring

There may have been a meteorite in Russia, but the sight of sunshine in Britain felt almost as unusual and rather more welcome. After what one farmer friend describes as ‘18 months of winter’, it came as a blessed relief. The ground may be sodden, but the cow parsley is on its way. Colin the gamekeeper also reports several recent sighting of lovers, who, thinking they’ve found a quiet, romantic spot on his estate, are rather surprised when he trundles by in his Land Rover. He gives them a cheery wave. Last year, a pillar of the community was interrupted together with her Polish plasterer. It’s certainly kept the beaters’ wagon full of gossip during the shooting season.

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The queue for the local butcher was halfway down the street on Saturday. The horsemeat scandal may turn out to be good news if it means that we start to support these local shops and local producers. Not only could the butcher tell me the complete provenance of my rib of beef, he added with a glint in his eye that the bullock had spent much of its life in the field where the pillar of the community had been undone.

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