All over the world there are spectacular journeys through canyons and mountains, glaciers and rivers, castles and great cities ... and then there is the ephemeral moment in the gentle English countryside in late spring/early summer when perfection is within reach.
Even England has its lakes and peaks that have their own charm. However it's the curvier landscapes during that sublime day or two on the cusp of May and June that take centre stage in the country's bucolic splendour.
It's not the sort of splendour that can be enjoyed from a speeding car, perhaps not even from a bicycle. It is only possible to absorb the tranquil grandeur on foot or in a suitable wheelchair. This is why England will always have its special place in the hearts of all those who have experienced it at its gentlest.
This is when there is no better value than walking out for that quintessential lunchtime treat of fish and chips at a country pub. In our case the King and Queen at Longcot. This might have been accompanied by a pint or two (ginger beer being an acceptable substitute).
Above: A juxtaposition of buttercups and hawthorn signpost the way to our summer indulgence ...
Of course, all this consumption requires a brisk and stretching walk home. At this time of the year, though, it is less of chore and more an affirmation that 'twas an excellent idea to pop out for a sneaky lunch.
Above: The brisk return atones for over indulgence and reminds us that agriculture has been at the centre of the taming of English countryside for millennia. Even the extravagant tower (dovecote?) near the end signposts past centuries.
Don't get me wrong, there are those doughty types who will walk (and even cycle) all year round. Maybe huddle in a bus shelter for an energy snack. I know this because I am one of them. But let the sun shine in May and it would be a pretty crabby fellow who didn't enjoy tea and a bit of cake in the sunshine and possibly even travel a fair old way to join family and friends in this repast at Cantorist Farm in Childrey.
Above (l to r): Kate and Shelley-ann enjoying the sunshine; Andrew looking pleased with himself having cycled over from Hungerford for brunch.
Time was I'd have cycled there, too, albeit a slightly less challenging ride from Faringdon. Instead, I returned home to undertake a bit of gardening in preparation for a fuller appreciation of the sunset below.
Above: sunset over the Cotswolds as seen from our patio on the edge of Faringdon.