Spend a few days here and you’ll soon work  out why everyone carries an umbrella and  talks incessantly about the weather. The most blissful summer’s day can turn into a storm and, conversely, just when it looks like the rain will never end, the clouds part and the sun comes out. With this in mind, each season has its redeeming points. Obviously, the odds for warm weather are best  in summer, although July and August can be unpleasantly busy in the tourist spots. In spring, everything is blooming, come autumn the colours of the trees are wonderful, and in winter the crisp blue skies and chance of snow make the cold  temperatures bearable. Basically, come whenever  – just bring a sprayjacket.

A (VERY) brief history

Humans are thought to have lived in England for 400,000 years, but the hard evidence starts around 4000BC with Stonehenge. The Romans invaded  in AD43, but got bored and went home after four centuries, leaving in their wake the Dark Ages, and an easy target. First the Angles and the Saxons invaded, followed by the Vikings and then William (soon to be) the Conqueror from Normandy, who won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. After William II came a long list of kings usually called Henry, Richard or Edward, before Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) became Queen in 1558. When she died, James I took to the throne, and England, Wales  and Scotland were united, though not by a single parliament until 1707. Under the rule of Robert Walpole, the first prime minister, the power shifted and the monarchy became more symbolic. During the 19th century, the British Empire expanded abroad, while the Industrial Revolution happened at home and Queen Victoria became the face of the nation. Then came two world wars, the end of empire and a period of economic struggle. By the end of the 20th century, the outlook was brighter and today England, as part of Britain, has one of the world’s leading economies.