Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Truly Rural Royal Wedding

Now . . . let me ask you a riddle. What is the link between a Royal wedding and a pregnant pony?
Give up . . . ?
I'll tell you the answer . . . cow parsley!

If that sounds a little unlikely, let me tell you a story.
Two days before the Royal Wedding I was in Central London. With half-an-hour to spare, I decided to walk through Green Park and take a look at the growing preparations.
Large flags were flying proudly in The Mall, excited visitors thronged outside the palace, whilst a positive encampment of international media had claimed squatting rights in the park.
But what brought me up short, and held me entranced, was something far less predictable.
I looked down in amazement. Had I been transported to a rural idyll . . . to a wildflower meadow?

Improbable as it sounds, the wide, grassy area that runs behind the pathway flanking The Mall was carpeted knee-deep in cow parsley!
Cow parsley . . . ? In Central London . . . ? Along the route of the Royal Wedding . . . ?
It was wonderfully incongruous, and quite ethereally beautiful.
With cow parsley in The Mall and an avenue of maple trees in the Abbey . . . this, it seemed, was going to be a truly rural Royal Wedding!

The sea of white blossom transported me back to a time when I lived in Somerset.
It was late spring and my pony, Jennie, was about to give birth to her first foal. During the latter stages of her pregnancy, she surprised us all by developing an enthusiasm for something that had never interested her before . . . Jennie had a pregnant passion for cow parsley.

In April the Somerset hedgerows are lush with cow parsley. Each day I would gather armfuls of frothy white blossom and take them to my demanding pony . . . who obligingly produced a beautiful foal to reward me for my efforts.

Yes, I know. It's a strange combination of images . . . a pregnant pony and a Royal Wedding.
It would have little to say to the majority of happy onlookers who lined the route, attended street parties or were captured by the events unfolding on the television screen. It would, in all probability, mean little to the bridal couple.
But, who knows, it might have a certain quixotic appeal to the horse-loving, country-loving Royal Grandmother!