I daren't say that there is a hint of Spring in the air today as so many of you in your comments yesterday remarked that Winter is on its way. But it is certainly mild and there is no wind, so that it is a pleasure to walk about - as Tess and I did after my morning trip to market with the farmer and meeting with nine other friends for our morning coffee. Friend W gave us all a bunch of daffodils as heralds of Spring - so thank you dear W - they are cheering up my kitchen. Because the Aga is always on and it is warm in there flowers don't last all that long - but I can't bear to be parted from my favourite harbingers of Spring. The buds are bursting already.
The birds are definitely behaving as though Spring is here; blackbirds are pairing up in the hedge bottom and the males are falling out like mad. The farmer reminded me that one year, when there was a mild spell after Christmas, a pair of blackbirds built a nest and laid eggs in the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square.
The pheasants are also getting a bit fruity - males are fighting duels in the middle of the lane. Why they can't settle their quarrels in the field I will never know, but there they are - mid road - flying up, pecking and squawking and not noticing when a vehicle comes along. Our lane is always much more busy on market days as the local farmers take their stock to market - today is a particularly busy day with a sale of bulls, of heifers, calves - over forty in one class alone so that the market is very busy indeed. It will be no surprise tomorrow if there are dead pheasants on the side - falling out over a mate is far more important than getting out of the way of a vehicle. The females have seen it all before and continue to scratch away on the grass verges, looking for grubs and seeds. They seem to be saying, "let them fight it out amongst themselves, stupid things."
I think the farmer must have had a bit of a wood search since yesterday, just to catch me out. For the last few weeks I have been lighting the woodburner after he has laid it with laths taken from the old parlour roof, which was replaced a few weeks ago - and boy were they slow to catch. Today he had laid it with twigs gleaned from somewhere and it went up like a little bomb, roaring up the chimney. I am sure he is somewhere having a good laugh at my expense.
I have booked our holiday today in Northumberland. Neither of us wishes to go all that far; we would rather enjoy the scenery of a leisurely drive to our destination than push through heavily populated areas. To get to Northumberland we can actually set off cross-country from our doorstep, calling in all our favourite places on the way. You would think that as we are not going until May there would still be plenty of accommodation in the hotels up there, but they are in rather short supply and more than half of the rooms were already booked in the hotel of our choice so we were right to book early. Now I have four months to look forward to it.