The sun shone, didn’t it.

So I ran out with washed sheets, bundled and clutched like a wet baby to my breast.

Even the duelling blackbirds seemed becalmed and distracted from their territorial face-off that has been a constant punctuation to every day over these last few weeks, come rain or indeed snow.

The hives hummed and burped out big plumes of happy, hungry bees like school kids racing for the classroom door at the first chime of the lunch-time bell.

I even saw the first and hopeful embryonic purple florets beginning to bud up on our tired but stalwart stems of overwintering broccoli.

Then the heavens opened and let the bathwater out.

And it really hasn’t stopped since.

Today is the 2nd April, the day after Easter Sunday; and the only difference between yesterday and today is that I’m not quite as full of food, and that my boots have dried out a little from leaning against the Aga overnight. Outside the sky is still a heavy frown of rippled grey; Spring is wearing this weather like a thrift shop find of pre-loved trousers, and she didn’t think to rummage for a pair of braces.

 

A couple of days’ ago I took and early morning walk with Billie, our lurcher pup, into the wood and down to the pond. The edges have been churned to a bog by the many deer as they brace, stretch and dip to take a draft. Sadly it’s impossible to approach the pond in ‘stealth’ mode with Billie as she’s only one setting, and that’s ‘bounce. So inevitably we disturbed the wild mallard couple that have taken up temporary residence.  They’ll be back, no doubt, but they’re brave to make this their home. Last year we lost all of our chickens to a very determined vixen who’d cubs to feed. We know this, because we saw her, a lot. And actually watched helplessly as she trotted off with our last hen held loosely between her jaws, feebly flailing like a spent umbrella.

Her last performance was bitter sweet: we spied her as she and three cubs lazily played in the bottom corner of the field, by the old elephantine body of a fallen Beech. Any resentfulness I felt, was immediately quashed by a flood of respect … She’d successfully raised a lively, healthy family. We’ll just have to get smarter if we want to keep chickens again.

Perhaps this choice of home is as good as any, but having already found one forlorn and broken duck egg in the long grass, I fear for any future brood.

The flagstaff Iris are a little way off from budding, but the St. Agnes’ flowers are now in full bloom, their snow flake heads nodding and mirrored in the quiet waters. I can’t wait for the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it zoom of dragonfly that frenzy-feed later in the year; the air is warmer and so pond life peaks, with thick and wining clouds of excitable midges gathering above the zig-zagging skaters and rowing water boatmen.

This morning, another walk, led by the need to check on the hives and then further to the greenhouse, to water and encourage this year’s seedlings. It is absolutely, relentlessly HOSING it down. Never the less it’s still pretty lovely to be out. The rinsed air feels and smells balmy, delicious even. Just recently the old hornbeam and holly hedge that hems the field has become decisively re-punctuated by perfect, badger-shaped holes. Billie and I make our way to the gate at the west corner of the field, onto the rutted lane and take a walk. I can see from this side, they’ve actually made very tidy work of their runs.  Each one is banked and daubed with beguiling constellations of primroses and wood anemone that seem to glow in this soggy half-light. It’s almost as if they’ve taken pride in their ‘doorsteps’… ‘Badger Lane’ has never looked so decorative.

 

When we first moved here, there were badgers… we knew this from the hair tufts caught on the old and rusted barbed wire at the bottom of the field, the well maintained latrines dotted throughout our wood , and from the occasional sightings of dear and bumbling backsides caught in retreat as they hurriedly nosed their way off the lane and through the hedge. But then all signs petered out and I feared that we’d not see them here again. But there’s clearly one ‘advantage’ of having dogs. And that’s if there’s a new perfume in town, then everybody wants to be the first one to sample it. And the smell of badger poo is unforgettable.

And so the brocks are back.

Controversial I know, but I’m delighted.