People in much warmer climates around the world often criticise the British weather and the unrelenting amount of rain we have at regular times throughout the year.
But rain is the lifeblood of the nation and produces a landscape admired by many for its beauty.
There may have been many upheavals in the landscape since the onset of industrialisation, but on the whole the majority of us still live not too far away from what the English Romantic Poet William Blake described in a poem now better know as "Jerusalem", as "England's green and pleasant land".
The Black Country and wider Midlands’ flower festivals that grace the village halls and fill some of the ancient town churches with perfume and splendour each year, add their own unique splashes of colour to this green and pleasant land, and attract visitors from far and wide.
The famous Claverley Flower Festival in Shropshire, located just a handful of miles from Wolverhampton, is one that has been providing throngs of visitors from the Black Country with an emporium of innovation, design, and a spectacular myriad of colours every summer for many years. This year will be the Festival's 36th consecutive season of welcoming visitors to Claverley's medieval church of All Saints, where a magnificent variety of blooming designs will once again be exhibited, and this time round the theme that the many talented and industrious exhibitors have had to work to is "Let's Dance" in all its many guises.
The Festival Committee have informed us that the Festival will run for four days at All Saints Church, beginning on Saturday 14th July and ending on Tuesday 17th July, from 10 am to 7 pm each day, admission £2.50. There will be teas and refreshments available in the churchyard from 10am to 5pm every day and there will be several stalls and a grand raffle located at the Lychgate.
Special events at All Saints Church during the Flower Festival include "Festival Evensong" at 7pm on Sunday 15th July, and a special "Songs of Praise" which concludes the 2012 Festival at 7pm on Tuesday 17th July.
Ludstone Hall is a privately owned Jacobean mansion about a mile from the centre of Claverley, and once again this year, in conjunction with the Flower Festival, the hall's splendid gardens will be open to visitors for a separate entrance charge, courtesy of Mr & Mrs. Smith.
The Festival Committee is also inviting people to join a preview evening on Friday 13th July when those attending will be thoroughly entertained by the Highley Colliery Band. The band's history stems from the days of mining and the original group of musicians was disbanded after the pit closures of 1969. But 24 years later in 1993 a new Highley Colliery Band was formed and since that date has grown significantly, regularly performing at a variety of events. Tickets for this particular event will be available soon from Claverley Post Office, churchwardens and The Vicarage. The village of Claverley is 8 miles from Wolverhampton, off the A454 Wolverhampton to Bridgnorth road, and 10 miles from Dudley, off the B4176 Dudley to Bridgnorth road. For further information about this year's Claverley Flower Festival call 01746 710304, or access www.claverley-tuckhill.
The Bugle has been featuring the Claverley Flower Festival (some say one of the best in the West Midlands area) for the past ten years, and up until this year we have only been able to publish photographs of the blooming designs in monochrome. But 2012 has seen a change in our production methods and given us the opportunity to use full colour pictures when the need arises. We have therefore dug deep into the Bugle archives and indulged ourselves with a few examples from past Claverley Flower Festivals that we hope Bugle readers, both those with green fingers and those without, will enjoy. Coincidentally, after the recent celebrations in honour of Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Claverley Flower Festival of 2002 (ten years ago) was celebrating the Queen's Golden Jubilee.