Happy Imbolc from the Cotswold Life editor!

I hope the image on our cover gladdens your heart.

Mother Nature has been snuggling down under her leaf-mulch duvet over the last few months but, much like a springer spaniel dreaming of chasing rabbits, she’s been far from inactive. Up until now, big, showy, bells-and-whistles nature has been dormant, but wonderful things have been going on beneath our feet, and now spring’s jack-in-the-box is all ready to surprise us.

I do love the mystery, magic, and – yes, possibly – science of it all, and there’s no denying that ‘certain something’ you feel at this time of year, leading up to May Day and beyond, that’s like a lovely itch that needs to be scratched (we should all join in, Baloo-style, I reckon). The energy is infectious. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but it’s akin to that feeling when you can smell autumn in the air… but dialled up to 11.

We’re here to help you celebrate that sap-rising energy, and it’s no coincidence that Valentine’s falls right at the heart of it all (see what I did there?). Yes, it’s a time when florists can expect a steady trade, and restaurants can enjoy that all-too infrequent feeling of being fully booked (it really is too infrequent), but it’s an energy that can be channelled into all sorts of wonderful things.

I don’t know if you’ve managed yet to get your hands on the brilliant book, Intelligent Hands, published by Quickthorn, but I would urge you to do so. In this issue, Katie Jarvis talks of the power of creativity – of using your hands to manifest something that might otherwise be hidden in your subconscious – and it’s truly enlightening. Why do many of us value academic success so much more than the ability to create something beautiful that touches us on very many levels? Yes, it’s baffling, and most definitely worth rethinking.

We also chat to the wonderfully, gloriously fabulous Jilly Cooper, and find out how her creativity – and endlessly youthful spirit – bring joy to so many of us. You may have heard that, aged 86, she’s been given a Damehood in the New Year Honours, and we couldn’t be more delighted. If ever there was someone who captured the essence of what the Cotswolds is about – its intoxicating blend of warm-heartedness, wisdom, creativity… and knowing cheekiness – it’s Jilly. It’s wonderful news, and if you don’t love her as much as we do now, we promise you will after reading her interview.

We’ve attempted to pack as much chartreuse-coloured energy into the 228 pages you have in your hands as we possibly can, and I hope you’ll agree we’ve succeeded. As ever, there is far too little space here to convey the wonders within, but we hope you enjoy uncovering them.

Happy Imbolc!*

Candia McKormack
Editor, Cotswold Life

X: @cotslifeeditor

*Imbolc is also called Saint Brigid's Day and is the Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring.

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Great British Life: Jilly CooperJilly Cooper (Image: Edward Whitaker, Racing Post)A runway success
During the war, Jilly Cooper’s brigadier father rented the Azores for English and American planes to land on. 

Great British Life: Great spotted woodpeckerGreat spotted woodpecker (Image: Terry Stevenson)Headbangers united
At up to 40 strikes per second, woodpeckers shrug off blows that would give us a serious concussion. 

Great British Life: Horse-drawn ploughHorse-drawn plough (Image: Getty Images)Ploughing his furrow
The church organ agriculturist Jethro Tull played on Sundays, became the inspiration for his seed drill.