Easier, better or both?

Springtime in the Costwolds – A Feast for the Senses

We have been enjoying a springtime sensory extravaganza.


Each morning we are woken early by the incredibly beautiful the dawn chorus. The birdsong gets more complex over the first few weeks of the spring as a mixture of migrant birds arrive for their summer holidays.

Soon the air is filled with the sound of cheeping chicks, when food is delivered to nests by hard-working parents.

Spring days are punctuated by high-pitched bleats from little lambs, answered by deeper baas from watchful mothers.


The air smells fresh and is filled with wonderful fragrances.

We pop into Broadway to check on the gnarled old wisterias in the high street every few days, so that we don’t miss the wonderful smell of their divine pastel flowers when they emerge.

Hubby’s favourite is the aroma that wafts over the fence from the buds on the neighbour’s poplar trees.

I love to sink my nose into the blossoms on lilac trees dotted around the village.

Woodland walks are rewarded with the sweet smell of violets – best appreciated by getting a nose close to the ground – well worth the muddy knees.


It’s wonderful when colour returns to the village after the drab, grey winter.

Snowdrops appear first, followed by bright yellow daffodils.

Then the world erupts into colour as blossoms appear on cherry, plum, apple and pear trees.

Clematis flowers cascade over walls and fences. Wildflowers pop up on verges and across the meadows. Bluebells form a brilliant carpet in the woods.

Birds fly sorties collecting moss and twigs for their nests.

Male birds  flirt with females by puffing up to make themselves look more eligible.


A mild, warm breeze replaces the winter’s icy blasts.

Nettles along paths need to be given a wide berth, otherwise they sting like crazy leaving an area of skin that buzzes for 24 hours afterwards.

The ground is soft and warm and yields gently when turned to plant soft, new seedlings.


In April we start to prowl the farm shops in the area looking for the divine local asparagus – so wonderful that an Asparafest is held in its honour. It’s absolutely delicious and for the next few months is a reliable and consistent fixture on menus at home and in local eateries.

Wild garlic pops up on woodland floors. The leaves add a subtle, interesting flavour to frittatas, omelettes, salads and a host of other dishes.

Fresh chives, mint, nasturtium flowers and the first crop of lettuces form a base for spring salads, accompanied by garlic mustard (Jack by the Hedge), which is foraged by hubby.

We love springtime in the Costwolds – it makes us feel alive again.


We have been adopted by two male pheasants, Pherdinand and Phred. This is somewhat of a mixed blessing. They have stunning colouring and are fun to watch strutting around the garden, but a menace when they get into the veggie beds and decimate the plants.

Before the boys took up residence, I thought that pheasants were the stupid. Their lack of road sense is legendary. They rush frantically in front of oncoming cars, then bob backwards and forwards trying to decide which way to run.

However Pherdinand is an altogether brighter bird. He & hubby share a passion for mizuna, which has led to an arms race in the garden. Hubby has been testing all manner of mizuna-defence-devices, and thought he’d won when he constructed a wire cage around his prized leaves. But … a few days later the leaves were in tatters. Pherdi had perched on top of the cage, depressed the wire till the mizuna poked through and proceeded to eat the leaves. We now have a bigger and better cage. For the time being, the mizuna appears to be safe, if somewhat difficult for us to harvest.

Hubby is quite besotted with the pheasants. He started throwing seeds out for them during the summer. As both parties developed confidence in the relationship, this progressed to hand-feeding. Pherdi, however is no longer happy to wait for his food. He now knocks on the back door when he decides it’s time for grub. He’s got hubby perfectly trained to feed him on demand, three times/day. He’s not so dumb, this pheasant of ours.