A truly unforgettable experience, as I'm sure it was for thousands who climbed their nearest high point to ignite Diamond Jubilee beacons. We had gathered in the gardens of a house in the village to eat, drink and be merry whilst Youngest Boy spent four hours somersaulting down a bouncy castle. And then, at ten o'clock we convened in the dark road outside (our village has no street lighting thank goodness) and followed an enormous English flag up to the top of whale-backed Slawston Hill. As we ascended we pointed out flaring lights on the surrounding high points to each other, and then our own blaze sent fire, smoke and flying embers up into the sky as if competing with the big full moon that came out of a wisp of cloud at exactly the right moment. I stared out into the black distances, thinking of those in neighbouring villages gathered around their beacons, looking over to ours. Youngest Boy was simply awestruck, running about with his mate trying to catch flying spots of fire in the air until we gradually drifted off down the hill and back into the village street, saying 'goodnight' to our fellows in the darkness like Thomas Hardy characters coming home.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012) and Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012)