Its quite hard to believe that just yesterday we were walking barefoot on the grass of Berkeley Square enjoying the most delicious gelato. Whilst we basked in glorious late summer sunshine, floating upon a sea of tinted wayfarers, it felt like the summer sprites had returned to add some final freckles upon my nose. So waking this morning to dreary skies in the most sombre shade of gruel was quite the comedown to my seasonal effervescent mood.
But fear not sunbeam lovers, as I am armed with a plethora of green and floriferous imagery from my summer travels around England to extend those halcyon days throughout the month of September. Put down those thermal underpants and woolly jumpers, fix yourself a jug of Pimms and turn on the sounds of the summer. First stop on our magical tour is Chipping Campden in the glorious Cotswolds. Home to one of the most infamous, shining stars in the English garden repertoire, the magical Hidcote Manor.
We moseyed along a few weeks ago for an afternoon of peace, tranquility and delicious gossip exchange only to be rudely interrupted by a large group of hairy men wearing flowers in their hats, skipping along to the beat of their drums, shouting and bellowing at each other, whilst waving handkerchiefs in the air or as we like to call it, just your average day in the Cotswolds
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Morris dancing has been performed for over six hundreds years up and down the length of England and is a tradition steeped in history. Its popularity has now spread to the four corners of the globe. The Chipping Campden Morris 'side' can be traced back to the 1700s. The origin of the dance is thought to be a means of solving a dispute and includes handkerchief, professional, stick, hand clapping and jig dances. A team consists of six dancers, a musician, a 'fool' or animal character and a treasurer who collects donations from onlookers. It is considered lucky to donate to the Morris Men and to receive a small piece of cake in return but I am still waiting for my cake!
As odd as it may look, I have a soft spot for this unique, eccentric tradition. Morris men remind me of my childhood holidays. My sister and I would watch the folk singers and hippies strumming their guitars by the beach in Broadstairs during the summer folk week and we would wait to hear the sound of the bells alerting us to the Morris mens arrival. I never really knew what on earth was going on, just that it was totally fun, totally bonkers, totally barmy and totally British!
Hidcote Manor Garden
Near Chipping Campden