Cold Aston, Gloucestershire: The stalks crackle like crickets and begin to make a sound like applause as the sun gleams out
Every time, the Cotswolds surprises me twice. First, how quiet most of it is. With the crowds of repute magnetised to disparate skiffs of activity, most of the territory between them is largely empty, at least to my eyes. Second, how hilly it feels. It shouldn’t be a surprise: the “wold” of the name denotes an area of upland, or rolling ground. It’s not the Highlands, but as a literal middle ground between where I live and to where I gravitate, it’s appealing.
I can’t cope with flat places. I find a horizon abounding with level sightlines truly unsettling. It doesn’t take much to redress: the twinkle of a farmhouse atop the roll of land above, a village caught in the valley below, the sense of things subtly higher and lower around you quells my mind with a comforting, three-dimensional space, rather than the linear flatness of the east. It’s akin to claustrophobia: horizontophobia, if you like. At sea, I imagine I’d trade rough for flat any day. Here, though, the only seas are made of wheat.