IN THE WORDS OF IVOR NOVELLO…

“We’ll gather lilacs in the spring again,

And walk together down an English lane…….”

At least that’s what I try to imagine I’m doing at lilac time but I can never actually seem to pull it off.   I wonder if lilacs even bloom in English lanes now.  Things have probably changed quite a bit since I was there.  And to be honest I don’t really recall seeing lilacs in the lanes down which I used to walk.

The lanes that I remember were on the outskirts of a little village just outside Maidstone in Kent and I certainly never walked down them alone. I was usually accompanied by my mother (I would only be about 5 or 6 years old then) and we would walk for miles along peaceful byways, beside little, gurgling streams or fields of grazing cattle.

There were no lilacs but plenty of honeysuckle growing in the hedgerows, the kind that had a most heavenly perfume, not like the stuff they sell for planting in gardens nowadays.

Depending on the time of year we would look for primroses or cowslips and, if we happened to be passing a wood, English bluebells.  Sometimes we would walk across the fields looking for mushrooms growing in a ‘fairy ring’ and on the rare occasions that we found them I would stand inside the circle and make a wish.

I don’t ever remember seeing a car on those English lanes back then.  Of course they were around but they probably kept to the larger roads so there was little to break the tranquility of a fresh, spring day other than perhaps the sound of real church bells (not the electronic ones that you hear now) ringing out in celebration of a marriage or calling people to morning service, the barking of dogs as we went past a farmhouse or the cheery clanging from the forge as the blacksmith hammered out a new horseshoe or mended a farm implement.

These idyllic days, for me, were fleeting, since they only occurred during our annual visits, from the smoke and smog of London, to my grandparents who managed a working men’s club in the village but I remember them as though they were only yesterday.

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9 thoughts on “IN THE WORDS OF IVOR NOVELLO…

  1. Lilacs are a truly s(c)entimental favorite of mine…they grew between our yard and the neighbors’ when I was a child. I planted one for each of my children one Mother’s Day, and their legendary status on Mackinac Island made my visit to the Grand Hotel with my husband a fragrant dream come true!

  2. I had family living in the Maidstone area until recently. And although I don’t remember seeing lilac blooming along the lanes, they were certainly blooming in the hedges of the churchyard in St Peters Boughton Monchelsea only a few years ago. I have a white and a purple lilac in my garden here in Sussex, they’re not in flower yet, but the leaves are unfurling and the buds forming already.
    Thanks for the memories, Gill

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