Inspiration, Writing
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Post #63: The Romanticism of the English Countryside

Post #63: The Romanticism of the English Countryside.

Last month I wrote about giving up cable TV, and how well it’s worked for us. We’ve become far more discerning about what we watch and when we view programs. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll no doubt have heard me mention one of my favourite shows to watch on Netflix — Midsomer Murders.

Midsomer Murders runs on its own time: the slow, unhurried pace of provincial England. Episodes are 90 minutes long, leaving plenty of the cream of the storyline that would otherwise be cut from their flashy American counterparts. The series is set in the fictional English county of Midsomer (which is as much of a crime capital as Mt Thomas in Blue Heelers), and is filmed in and around Buckinghamshire and Southern Oxfordshire. Not every episode is brilliant, but there’s a perfect amount of wit and character development to keep you interested and queueing up the next episode.

Rural idyll

[Source: Slow Lane Life]

There’s a certain quality to the dialogue, the setting and the behaviour of the characters that you couldn’t find anywhere but England. So the American and I have been seriously discussing a short journey there, to live there for a few months in a country village much like the fictional Causton.

We would get to know the locals — the baker, the publican, the butcher.
We’d avidly read the local rag for gossip and tsk-tsk with the locals over the state of today’s youth.
Afternoon tea would mean a cuppa tea (with milk and sugar), served in fine china cups with matching saucers.
Accompanying the witty conversation of local ladies would be scones with jam and cream.
We’d wear woollen jackets and hunting caps and wellies.
We’d spend our afternoons hillwalking with our golden retriever to long-abandoned abbeys.
We’d enjoy evenings down at the local pub drinking warm British beer, hob-nobbing with the characters who are in their element after dark.
We’d warm ourselves by the peat-burning open fire.
On home from town, we’d pass sheep grazing in lush paddocks.
We would spend our weekends watching cricket or partaking in some badminton or landscape painting classes.

Nothing like watching a game of cricket on a Sunday afternoon…

[Source: East Rainton Cricket Club]

There’s so much I’ve read and seen of the English countryside, that to live there I would imagine would feel almost a homecoming of sorts. Back to the Motherland. But I realise that my nostalgia is for an England that no longer exists — the England of my imagination as described by Austen and Wordsworth and Dickens and Shakespeare and Byron and the Brontes. There is no actual Midsomer, but that doesn’t matter to me. It’s such a beautiful place in my mind, it couldn’t possibly all exist in real life.

I love that Midsomer Murders continues the romanticism of the English countryside for me, portraying a calmness and simplicity of life in serene surroundings that the characters actively appreciate. I hope one day we’re able to spend some time there to experience it in person.

1 Comment

  1. It’s interesting how people view England from afar and seen from another perspective I feel homesick, but at the time I could not wait to escape!

    If you do visit it’s worth going to Bibury, Lechlade, Cirencester, Upper and Lower Slaughter and Burford to name a few!. For large towns it has to be Oxford The properties are all built from what is known as Cotswold stone.

    Hope your dream becomes reality and if you really want some inside info you will need to join “the womens Institute” It’s amazing what you can pick up in the way of gossip about local life, especially from the older women.

    If you want to invite people for afernoon tea learn how to make a decent Victoria sponge cake filled with your own strawberry jam 🙂 This will def earn you some brownie points.

    Any questions about England please don’t hesitate to ask.

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