In England for the festive season. Travelled across two counties today, Worcestershire and Warwickshire, to steady rain. Rivers, brooks and streams almost bursting their banks, plenty of standing water on the roads and in the fields. Most people are inside out of the rain – only a few solitary dog-walkers, and an intrepid group of hikers, to be seen.
The UK is not an effusive culture, but it prides itself on being fair.
Especially at Christmas and Easter, you may hear the ringing of changes on a peal of church bells.
A kingdom of two countries, a principality and a province, the United Kingdom has long known how to create consensus.
The country landscape is dominated by rivers, setting the course of rail and road, the character of counties, and marking the landscape as heavily as do Roman roads and military camps. (Castrum, camp (Latin); on the sites of the many towns with ‘cester’ or ‘chester’ in their names.)
Although not as numerous as they were, some towns still host a garrison.
Just as important in creating the national character is the material culture – a pint of bitter ale in a country pub (“public house”), or at this time of year, a slice of rich dark fragrant Christmas cake, with a mantle of almond marzipan and lemon and sugar icing.
Its history is ever present, but England wears it lightly now.