The swallows are back – a couple of weeks later than last year and now the garage floor shows evidence of their enthusiastic ‘nest remodelling’. The early arrivals, first visible as mere shadows on the gravel, now swoop through the swallow-shaped opening in the garage door, preparing the accommodation for their slower travelling companions. A few days after the swallows’ return, I catch my breath as I hear the first cuckoo – the jigsaw pieces of early summer beginning to fit together. May is here and the lane verges seem suddenly lighthearted and frivolous with their lacy fronds of cow parsley, while the fresh greens on hedges and trees are a treat to the eye. Every year, the trees take it in turns to come into leaf and this year it is “oak before ash” – so if there is any truth in the old countryside saying; we should be “in for a splash” rather than a “soak”.
In Rose Cottage the holiday season of 2017 is about to start and I am busy preparing for my first guests on 12th May. For a variety of reasons, this will be the last summer for Rose Cottage as a holiday cottage. From October it will be let, on a permanent basis, to the friends who stayed here through the winter of 2016/17. (see Diane’s blog posts), This has not been an easy decision, but it does feel right. Friendships have been forged and I have really enjoyed getting to know so many charming and interesting people, many of whom have returned here year after year. In fact, the majority of the bookings this year are from people who, like the swallows, have chosen to return.
Postscript: Walking around the garden this morning, I see tiny blue speedwell flowers fighting for space in the grass of the lawn. Over the gate, in the orchard, six new apple trees, guarded by sturdy wooden fence posts and wire netting, are protected from a greedy group of ewes and lambs. The ewes have just been sheared and seem self-conscious and surprisingly clean – newly minted almost. In another field a group of five ‘underemployed’ rams stand around in a bored, dreamy state, calling to mind elderly members of an old-fashioned gentleman’s club.