today the light was pin sharp, in a cold wind out of the north east which took your ears off, but out of it, in the shelter of woods or tall hedge, the sun warmed and the sky was brilliant with huge clouds.

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under the satin blue edge of sky, a wafer thin darker blue smudge across the horizon is the North Sea; all the intervening landscape is in inky shadow.

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the blunted branches of the old oaks show no signs of spring, their dry grey bark contains the spark of life deep within, waiting for real warmth.

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from the top of the rise above Bulfur Grove Bellevue tower sticks up in clear view, two miles away as the crow flies.

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we walk around the big pit in the centre of the wood. there are a few clumps of snowdrops.

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the beech trees keep the woodland floor clear allowing the bluebells to maintain their hold; one of the signs of an old wood.

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but hollies are colonising the edge of the old marl pit and spreading amongst the big trees.

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we walk round the headlands of fields and find a small herd of red deer in the open. they rush off, inciting a bout of yelps and cartwheeling from the dogs which means I don’t get a photo.

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the deer trot off across the rape field, heads, knees and tails high and we don’t see them again, much to the dogs’ disappointment.

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last week we saw two roe bucks out on the fields on the other side of this wood; they bounded away like antelopes over the hedge banks, back into the tree cover.

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there was a woodpecker calling as we walked back up to the main road, and every morning this week a thrush has been singing from the highest trees around my garden and the neighbours’. the birds take every opportunity to make a start on their spring project, even if there are snow showers around the corner.

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