I wake to the sound of Bertie barking in the garden. It's barely light, so what's he doing outside? I snuggle back down, but sleep eludes me as I wait for the next bark, so I decide to investigate.
The back door is ajar and I push it open to a flood of bird song and a wide-awake, anxious mutt. His stomach is rumbling furiously - so no more sleep for either of us. Harness and lead slipped on and without disturbing Vita and Tod, we set off down the garden.
As the red horizon lightens, we push through the long wet grass and the spikes of winter wheat to find the muddy tractor wheel tracks that are a route across the field. Philippe, who used to have this land, left us a border of virgin grassland to walk along, which Tod mowed for him from time to time. The new owner is less generous and farms right to the ditch. So we need other stratagems for reaching the stream below us and the woods beyond, when, by early summer, crops have reached thigh high and are soaking in the morning dew.
We cross the small bridge and turn left alongside the stream. This year it is running full and fast - a sign of the amount of rain we have had this spring. Its gurgling is a background to the cascade of sound from the trees and hedgerows around me - the song of nightingales, blackbirds, thrushes interwoven with the fluting calls of the golden oriels in the canopy high above.
Thank you Bertie for waking me. In this fractious world where we live right now, it's good to be reminded of the beauty of this small heaven on earth.