Saturday, 13 October 2007


Written to friends in an email in August
We’re surrounded by working farms, every field cultivated. Maize is behind us and to one side, right to our boundary. The fields in front and to the other side have already been harvested so we overlook stubble and great round straw bales.

Beyond we have sunflowers – now gone over as their heads droop from the weight of the ripening seeds. To begin with I thought they looked sad, but now the foliage is turning to a bright rusty brown which glows in the late afternoon sun.

The other side of our small valley there is a herd of white cattle that wanders around the edges of woodland. Their cowbells are like having our own wind-chimes, although sometimes it’s hard to hear them over the noise of harvesters working late into the night as the farmers take advantage of a dry patch.

We watch the weather coming in across our valley. Some mornings start deep in mist and then gradually clear to sunny days. Thunder storms start with flickering on the surrounding hills and then come crashing in. Clara, Smudge and I sat panting on the corridor floor outside the bathroom at 1am, where we couldn’t see the surrounding flashes, only hear the crashing thunder. In the still points between we heard Tod’s gentle snores as he slept through the lot.

Everyone complains there has been no summer this year. We are just grateful that it has been cool enough to be able to sleep well at night and to have the energy to unpack, while we slowly acclimatise.

Nights can be crystal clear. We stand in the garden looking up at an ink-black sky full of stars and great swathes of the Milky Way.

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