For almost the first time this year it is a perfect day. The hazy sun is shining, there is a light, warm breeze and the air is full of the smells of Autumn. So after lunch Tess, the pup, and I decided to stroll down our lane on what we like to call a “mosey”.
Our lane is a mile and a half long and has just three farms on it – equally spaced out – so there is little, if any traffic and utter peace and quiet. So off we go.
Almost all the wild flowers are dead and gone to seed – just vestiges here and there -
bits of deep yellow horseshoe vetch climb through festoons of dead old man's beard; sometimes bits of purple vetch intertwined. And on the grass verge the last few remaining white and pink clover knobs nod in the light breeze. Here and there clumps of purple knapweed are still in flower but most of their cousins, the thistles, are already seeded. We pass a patch of rosebay willow herb long turned to white 'cotton-wool' seeds. It is covered with goldfinches, feasting on one of their favourite foods. They fly off as we get near – eight of them- but only a few yards to the next patch. And so it is all the way down the lane; they keep just in front of us.
As we approach the next farm Tess is alerted to a strange noise that she hasn't heard before. The farmer is harvesting his last field of wheat. Round and round the field the combine harvester goes as we watch. It throws up clouds of dust as it goes. Suddenly a brown hare breaks cover and runs across the field. If Tess were not on her lead she would surely be after it.
The next field is already stubble and full of gleaning cock pheasants, scratching between the rows of stalks and eating their fill of the droppings from the combine. Young pheasants, recently let out of their breeding pens, stand in confused groups in the lane, undecided which way to go or what to do. They move off as we get near – more because of the dog than me I suspect as they are so used to humans.
Earlier in the year a fierce storm cut a swathe through Forty Acre Wood and as we get there I see that the woodmen have been in cleaning up. Piles of tree trunks, neatly sawn up, are piled on the edge of the ride. A young deer sniffs at the logs but beats a hasty retreat when it sees us.
Where the lane goes through the wood it is intensely quiet. Nothing stirs. It is almost eerie. Silently a squirrel runs in little leaps across the lane in front of us. Tess breaks that eerie silence with a sharp bark. The squirrel wiggles his tail, races up a tree trunk and is gone.
Once out the other side in the sunlight we can hear long tailed tits working the hedge. I stand still and look but I can't see them, just hear their chatty little conversations as they work along and pass us.
Oaks and silver briches are beginning to turn. Acorns are still quite tiny, yet many of the oak leaves are already brown. Small swags of golden leaves hang at the tips of some silver birch branches.
In the hedge the last honeysuckle flower stands out creamy yellow against the green background. Hips and haws are already deep, beady red and shiny – and look so inviting for the birds – don't eat them too soon, birds, there's a whole Winter ahead.
Rooks dig their long crusty beaks into the ploughed field as we pass. And then we are almost back home again. David is giving the grass in John's field its last cut for a bit more silage for winter. This is the first time for a few weeks that it has been dry enough for the land to take machinery.
We meet two walkers, two cyclists and a tractor in our two mile walk. We get home. Tess has a long drink of water and I put the kettle on.