On the Friday morning I sat and watched the sky whilst the sun struggled to break through. The early birds were moving against pearl grey skies streaked with white. Wood pigeons reminded me of businessmen hurrying to their breakfast meetings together with their grey clad colleagues. Occasionally collared doves would join them, like beige trouser suited businesswomen would join their male counterparts. It all served to remind me that I was bound for Norfolk and a week on the farm that I love and thoughts of grey suited commuters with their grey exsistances could be left behind for a blissful while.
The journey was a drag but somehow that doesn't matter when you know what's waiting at the end of it. The cottage was as I remembered it and a welcoming cup of tea and slice of cake awaited us as always. Once settled there was time for a quick stroll around to see what there was to be seen. Stark against a now bright sky the upper branches of a leafless and dying oak made perfect perches for a group of fifteen or so mistle thrushes. Although these birds stay with us all year round I tend to think of them as one of the winter thrushes; Not a good omen! Just the day before we left to come on holiday the Met Office revised their forecast for the main part of the summer. The experts backtracked on their assertion that August would see a 'barbeque summer' and, instead, their new promise was for cooler temperatures and periods of wind and rain. A typical British summer then! It crossed my mind that we may have a repeat of the summer of 2007 when the weather was awful for the entire week.
I walked on down to the fishing pond and beyond to the kingfisher pond. As I approached I saw a young heron on the kingfisher perch that I know as the dragon log because of its strong resemblance to a sea monster rearing its head from the water. The water levels seemed low and I imagined that the long, dry spells we'd enjoyed through June and July must have left this legacy.
I sketched the heron onto the first page of my brand new sketchbook and moved on briefly to the paddocks and the fields opposite where the swallows swooped low over the golden, ripe barley crop. There was no sign of any little owls in their usual tree but in the woodland nearby I heard the cries of young kestrels and watched as a female flew directly overhead and into the canopy, clutching some small food item. I made a mental note to return and see if I could identify a nest site. So, as the sky turned to gold and the tops of the barley whispered with light, I returned to the cottage to enjoy a good meal and the first of the week's many welcome glasses of wine, content that all seemed as it should be and that, in the morning, the week proper could begin.
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