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Cotswolds Day Tour - Rural Sayings


Country Sayings!

England is steeped in history; the Cotswolds region is no exception. We love the history & quirky facts that abound in this magical region & love sharing these with our guests. Many guests book their Cotswolds tour with us because they love learning the history & for those of you who are unsure which Cotswolds tour to take then we hope you will find these posts interesting & get a feel for our little company.

Before the Industrial Revolution, when many people migrated to larger towns. England was mainly an centre of agriculture. That is what is still so special about the Cotswolds, the region, is still over 80% farmland

Something that us Brits are famous for are our sayings, and those living in the countryside have many proverbs which have been passed down through generations. We are going to share with you some of the most famous & the obscure, over a series of blog posts, which we hope you will enjoy. This post will focus on countryside sayings related to the weather (a favourite British topic!) Remember Cotswolds Guided Tours is open all year round, so some of these sayings may come in useful!

As you can imagine, within the farming community the weather (or predicting the weather) was very important. Countryside dwellers would look to a range of natural ‘forecasters’ to try to predict what the weather would be like.

An old rhyme about Bee’s (known for their reliable forecasting abilities) is a great example. Many farmers would visit their bee hives before deciding what jobs to do with their day.

If the bees stay at home,

Rain will soon come;

If the bees fly away

Fine will be the day.

Cattle are also a good indicator of the weather, or changes in the weather to come. When rain is on the way, cattle are seen shaking their heads & sniffing the air. In summer, cattle seen sweeping their tails, is a sign of a forthcoming thunderstorm. They do this for good reason, it is always humid just before a storm, there is an increasing in flies due to the heat, cattle will swish their tails to rid themselves of unwanted attention. Here is a great countryside saying:

When a cow tries to scratch its ear,

It means a shower is very near;

When it clumps its side with its tail,

Look out for thunder, lightening & hail.

Another countryside sound that we get used to, is the cock crowing at dawn. As with most animals in the farmyard then cocks have their own saying which forecasts poor weather for the following day….

If the cock crows when they go to bed,

They’ll sure to come down with a watery head.

Perhaps you do not have cattle to observe, a cock to crow at dawn, or bee’s in a hive. This next saying may help you to plan your day ahead.

Dew at night,

Next day will be bright.

So if you check your lawn on a summers evening & the lawn is damp with dew it signifies a bright warm day ahead. One of the most famous sayings is as follows;

Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight,

Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.

This saying was well used throughout rural England in 1600 & 1700s, when sheep farming was at its peak. The Cotswolds was made famous on the proceeds of the wool industry, the many workers cottages & manor houses that we have here were built on the wealth of the wool industry. Another lesser known saying

A rainbow at night,

Fair weather is in sight.

A rainbow at morn,

Fair weather all gorn (gone)

Another saying dating back to medieval times, ‘By hook or by crook’ explains when tenants were granted the right by their lord of the manor to gather firewood by hook or by crook. (shepherds hook or billhook.) It meant that tenants could only gather firewood that could be reached from ground level with their shepherds hook & was cut using the billhook. It meant that tenants could legally gather firewood (the main source of heating at that time) so if the saying is used today, it would mean that you have done everything within your power, legally, to obtain something. Another saying that we use in regards to saving money is known as a ‘nest egg’ the idea being that if you have some money set aside it may encourage you to save more. This saying links back to chickens, when you place an egg in the nest to encourage them to lay more.

We hope you have enjoyed this little insight into country ways & some sayings that help villagers & locals in years gone by. If you have a love of the countryside, perhaps you will choose to take a Cotswolds Tour as a fantastic way to explore the region. The Cotswolds is beautiful, steeped in history, lore & superstition. We would love to meet you & be part of your escape to the country.


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