On our first trip in the UK and Europe in 2008, we travelled by train between cities, and I was thrilled at England’s vivid countryside and how green and pleasant the land is still.
Every few miles, there’d be another cute hamlet or village in the distance: thatched or white stone or black-and-white timber framed houses, cobbled streets and village greens, and always the church spire thrusting up through sparkling green trees.
Between villages, mile after mile of pasture, patchwork meadows, fields of brilliant yellow rapeseed, hawthorn hedge rows, woods. Trees of a green that’s distinctively England. Shades of green we just don’t see down here in the Antipodes.
Green. Vivid. Sparkling. Brilliant. Oak trees. Elms. Yew. Ash. Black Alder. Incredible light. Incredible shades of light green.
I soon ran out of exclamations. That’s cute. That’s SO cute. That is SO CUTE! Oh, look, another village: that one’s really cute! After the first day, on the First Great Western line from London to Oxford, I had to invent a scale of cuteness. After that, it was easier to categorise the scenery. The scale went from, Oh, that’s cute to OMG That Is The Cutest Thing I Have Ever Seen, Ever; that is incredibly, cutely cute.
After Oxfordshire, and the West Midlands, The Lake District and a quick daytrip across to Yorkshire, it was a relief to spend a long (Bank Holiday) weekend in Cornwall. Dark, rocky coasts. The Lizard. Rough seas. Granite. Cliffs. There was also wind. And rain. More familiar territory, more like home.
Cornwall needs its own exclamatory scale, which doesn’t include “cute”.