It is a lovely day here - cold, still and sunny. For the past week it has been very windy and blustery showers, so today the contrast is quite marked. The farmer is shooting (well, beating as he is not a shooting man really) with our local syndicate, so Tess and I set off alone.
When I finish my lunch-time coffee and put my newspaper down, that is the signal for Tess to get up and look at me: "Are we going, then" I decide to go to the bathroom first - she comes with me - just in case I am pulling a fast one and not going to take her. Out of the landing window I spot a tiny wren on the wall, in full sunlight. Such shy little birds, who spend most of their lives in the hedge bottom scratching for grubs, this little chap is in fine feather and, close to, he is such a prettily marked bird, not the little brown job you imagine. So that is a good start.
A little way down the lane, after I have waited for Tess to poke her nose into a hole in the wall and shout, "Oi! I know you are in there!!" to the rabbits, a male bull finch flits silently across the lane in front of us.
What a splendid bird! His crimson breast is the nearest thing we have to the red cardinal in the US. If only they were not such secretive birds - they so rarely show themselves. This one, I guess, is after the last few honeysuckle berries in the hedge.
Today wildlife round here must be in a state of terror. In the fields to the left of the lane our syndicate are shooting. On the right of the lane our neighbouring farmer's syndicate is also shooting and he meets me as I come back. He is hitting the hedge with a stick to flush out any hiding pheasants. None come out and i am secretly glad. In the distance I get sight of our loval Hunt, who are in our area today looking for foxes. Again I am secretly hoping that all the shooting that has been going on since mid morning has warned the fox to lie low.
There is barely a leaf left on the trees after a week of gales. . I point the camera over the fields - the sheep graze in the Winter sunlight and the peaceful scene belies the shooting going on.
We come back through the front garden. There are still roses blooming and the purple hebe is putting out a few shoots of flowers. In the tubs by the back door the tete a tete daffodils are already poking through the gravel - a bit too early for my liking, they may get a nasty shock as a sprinkling of snow on high ground is forecast
I am in the middle of baking Christmas cakes for family and friends. One is just about ready to come out of the oven and one sits on the cooling rack. The smell is delicious - Christmas draws nearer - it will be December next week. Have a good weekend.